Days after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, the number of refugees from flood and wind ravaged areas of the central section of the state still showing up at the doors of the Woodbridge Community Center has shown no signs of abating.
The building is a tri-county evacuation center in times of disaster. It's been getting a workout since Sandy hit Monday night. The building is outfitted with a generator, a boon to many of the victims arriving who had medical equipment that needed to be recharged.
"We've had a high of 171 evacuees," said Lowell Aube, coordinator for Woodbridge's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) who was directing operations at the community center.
He was expecting seven more people from JFK Medical Center in Edison. "Most of them are ambulatory to some degree," he said.
They were arriving because they were in need of a steady electrical supply for respirators and other medical devices. "We're consolidating beds," Aube said. The building's gym was lined with green folding cots, while the roller skating rink had been another area to house hurricane victims.
As of Thursday, there were 77 refugees at the Woodbridge site. Some had come from Old Bridge and South River, an area that is flood prone with even relatively mild storms. For some of the community center dwellers, it meant the loss of their homes.
"We're comfortable here, it's OK," said Andy of Old Bridge. He thought he'd still be at the building for at least several days, possibly to Monday.
James Brown sat patiently in a wheelchair in the building's lobby. He said he normally uses an electric scooter, but that was left behind when flood waters destroyed his apartment and he barely escaped with his life.
"The water lifted me up," he said. "I'm homeless, but I'm lucky to have survived."