Those who sought refuge at the American Red Cross shelter at Dover High School from throughout Kent County enjoyed a comfortable stay as Hurricane Sandy unleashed her wrath on Delaware.
The emergency shelter set up by the American Red Cross at Dover High School Sunday held 91 people seeking safe harbor from throughout Kent County during the height of the storm called Hurricane Sandy.
By Tuesday afternoon, that number had dwindled down to 27 people for one more night as high winds subsided and a light rain continued to fall in greater Dover.
The three days went well as everyone got along and even participated in a dance safe and sound from the buffeting winds and 7 to 8 inches of rain that fell in a day and a half in Kent County.
Among those staying at the pet friendly, Dover High shelter were Jocqleen Hlavac, who lives near the Dover Air Force Base, and her two dogs, Eva and Dolly. In August 2011, she went to the American Red Cross set up in Milford.
"I'm originally from Puerto Rico, so I've seen a lot of hurricanes, including Hugo, the perfect storm, and Andrew, both category 5s," Hlavac said. "So, I am very familiar with what it's like to be in those types of predicaments. So, I chose to evacuate myself voluntarily.
"I know it could be really bad," she said. "I didn't want to be that close to water and flooding with the dogs; they are my family. You didn't hear the storm. It was nice. The staff was really helpful. Everything that was possibly needed they brought."
Also at the shelter was Ken Benson, of Felton, with his wife and other family members. They live in wide-open farmland with few trees to slow the wind down, he said.
"With the wind coming from the Northeast and the rain it was puddling water," Benson said. "We felt that it was just going to get too deep for us to move around, get to food or anything like that.
"They handled things quite well here," he said. "There were people here, but it wasn't really very crowded. Everyone got along. Of course, with the kids, things got a little noisy at times, but that's to be expected."
The Benson family would stay until Wednesday morning, then head home to Felton.
"Where we're at, it's wide-open space and I want as much of the wind gone as possible before we head back," Benson said.
Assisting the American Red Cross at Dover High were the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, AmeriCorps NCCC, Kent County SPCA, the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Dover Police Department, with the latter providing two police officers who worked eight-hour shifts around the clock. In addition, the Capital School District provided two custodians and two cafeteria workers that prepared meals for everyone.
Delaware Medical Reserve Corps nurses Jean Taylor, Gloria Shuba, Traci Williams and Christopher Grogan were among those assisting guests at the shelter.
Taylor's daughter Aneya, a St. Thomas More High School senior, also helped Shuba lead the dance lines during a rendition of the electric slide dance Monday night, with a little assistance from Williams' daughter Graciela Carroll, a Star Hill Elementary third grader.
Grogan also kept the younger crowd busy as a whole with American geography quizzes, mathematical problems, Simon Says, jumping jacks and football in the hallway.
"It kept them occupied," he said. "You don't want the kids to be traumatized by the event. There [were] 70 mile per hour winds outside and rain."