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Evacuees Put On Brave Face In Midst Of Dire Circumstances

Battersea Ave in Ocean City, New Jersey (credit: Joe Sheppard)

Battersea Ave in Ocean City, New Jersey (credit: Joe Sheppard)

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By Robin Rieger

PEMBERTON, N.J. (CBS) - “They keep saying ‘When are we going home?’ and I don’t answer that,” said Beverly Rodriguez.

She said she isn’t sure how she and her children will start over after losing everything in their flooded first floor apartment across from the Seaside Heights Beach, devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

“Fire trucks came in. We pretty much had to leave with [the] clothes on our backs,” Rodriguez said.

They are not alone. There are almost 200 similar stories in this Red Cross shelter at Burlington County College in Pemberton where an overflow of evacuees from Ocean County are now staying.

The Red Cross is now looking for donations of clothing for the men, women and children here who are trying to put on a brave face in dire circumstances.

“Sweat pants, undergarment socks, we’re asking that they be new. That’s what gives them the security and comfort they deserve being in this type of situation,” said Burlington County freeholder Mary Ann Obrien.

“I don’t scare easily; this time I was scared,” said Evelyn Bennett. She is from Point Pleasant Beach. She and Stan Chaplinski just made it out of their flooded home.

“The water came up so fast we had five minutes to get out,” Bennett said.

“If it weren’t for this place I don’t know where I’d be,” said Anna Maudlin, an evacuee from Atlantic City.

While the evacuees say they are finding comfort here with food, necessities and support from volunteers, some don’t know what the future will bring, especially for the kids.

“It’s hard, just racing thoughts trying to figure out what you’re going to do, not wanting to let them see you cry,” said Rodriguez.

The Red Cross is also sheltering evacuees at the Fountain of Life Center in Florence, where pets are welcome. If you would like to donate items or new clothes you can reach out to the Burlington County Freeholders at 609-518-5810.