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Evacuees Grateful for the Safety of Red Cross Shelters as Irene Passes By

Mandatory evacuations and power outages have forced people from their homes all over the east coast and more than 27,000 spent Saturday night in Red Cross shelters.

Irene has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm but is still packing a pretty powerful wallop as it continues northward.

On Cape Cod, 52 players from the Austin Preparatory football team were evacuated from their football camp to a Red Cross shelter at the Yarmouth High School gymnasium. “Coach told us the game plan had changed,” left tackle Mark Maradei reported. “He prepared us by saying we would be spending two nights here.”

The players pulled together and set up their cots, bags and blankets. Most had never slept in a gym before. "I think this will help us on the field," said Maradei. While their coach hopes that's true, his biggest concern was getting all of the students to safety. The Yarmouth shelter is just one of dozens opened across Massachusettes ahead of Irene.

On Long Island, Carmen Mejias spent the night in a Red Cross shelter at the Nassau Community Center. "The people of the Red Cross are the angels that God sends to help us,” he said. “Since we arrived, we have a place to sleep, food, water and milk for children, what else I can ask. We have what we need during this emergency.”

Rosi Mohedona arrived in the Long Island shelter on Saturday morning with children Christopher and Kate and saw the volume of existing work in the shelter. All three decided to become Red Cross volunteers. "We arrived this morning and saw they needed help and we decided to help,” she said. “After all, they are helping us too. I am very grateful to the Red Cross and the work being done to help others.”

Rose Miranda also escaped the storm at the Nassau Community Center. She, her sons and daughter were grateful to have a safe place to escape from the storm. "We have a bed to sleep on, food, water, what else I can ask for in a time like this,” she said. “It is the first time I had to leave my home to get to a shelter and I really feel safe knowing that the Red Cross is helping us.”

Those affected by the storm can let friends and family know where they are by registering on the Red Cross Safe and Well website at They can also call a family member or friend with internet access and ask them to do their registration.

If someone would like to help, they can make a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. They can also send contributions to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

List yourself 'Safe and Well' If you have been affected by a disaster, this website provides a way for you to register yourself as "safe and well and notify your family of your well-being. Read more