A Red Cross Storm Report From New Jersey

Early Sunday morning, Hurricane Irene rolled through southern New Jersey. Guest host John Ydstie speaks with Pamela Grites of the American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter about Hurricane Irene's effects on southern New Jersey.

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Earlier this morning, Irene rolled through southern New Jersey. We're joined on the line by Pamela Grites, executive director of the American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter.

Welcome to the program, Ms. Grites.

PAMELA GRITES: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.

YDSTIE: What are conditions like now in southern New Jersey?

GRITES: I think that we fared well, although assessments will be underway for some time in all three of my counties. I spoke to the Office of Emergency Management manager in Cape May County, and he had opened a shelter of last resort last night that had about 200 people seeking shelter. And they have about 13,000 people out of power there.

The Red Cross sheltered about a thousand people in Atlantic County. And there are quite a few power outages there in Atlantic County, about 33,000 people are out of power there. Roads are blocked with downed wires and trees throughout our jurisdiction, and those assessments are underway.

YDSTIE: And with the damage caused mostly by winds or flooding in southern New Jersey?

GRITES: I think flooding is the big concern now. And I think the high winds were less than was expected, which was a blessing. But there are still were six or more inches of rain throughout the region, on top of already saturated ground. So right now, as it is high tide - although they're not as concerned about the ocean - the back bays within the next hour will be rising. And there are some concerns about that; that's being watched very closely.

YDSTIE: Can you tell us the total number of people who have been displaced in your counties, and when they might be able to get back home?

GRITES: We have a population in our jurisdiction of over 500,000. And I would say there are at least, you know, 20,000 in shelters. And when they will be able to come home will depend upon the assessments that each individual Office of Emergency Management in my three counties are making, as we speak. And that assessment is going to take some time.

They can shelter-in-place if power is the only issue, but flooded roads and transportation issues still remain.

YDSTIE: Pamela Grites is executive director of the American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter in southern New Jersey.

Thanks very much, Ms. Grites.

GRITES: Thank you.

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