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Displaced Families Settle in at Shelter

Southampton Town residents evacuated their homes, and with no place else to go, are riding out Hurricane Irene at Hampton Bays High School.

By 5 p.m. Saturday, at least 64 Southampton Town residents checked in to the Red Cross hurricane shelter at .

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Families clustered their cots together in the school gymnasium, some keeping themselves occupied with electronics. A handful of seniors sat in the school auditorium — which, unlike the gym, is air conditioned — and watched the Cuba Gooding Jr. movie “Radio.”

Billie Jean Kennedy of Flanders said she and her family removed the air conditioners from their house in advance of the hurricane, a recommended safety measure.

Kennedy, her husband and three sons were ordered to evacuate their Moon Avenue home, just around the corner from the water. Camped out in the gym, they were watching “Men in Black” on a laptop.

Kennedy said they don’t know for sure when they can go back home, but were told they would have to wait between 24 and 36 hours.

"The only thing I’m afraid of is the trees around it," she said of her house. "We’re encased in trees."

They arrived at the shelter around 2 p.m. with blankets, canned goods and snacks like cheese and crackers — the Red Cross will also serve food in the school cafeteria, free to evacuees. Kennedy said they packed plenty of movies, board games and hand-held video game devices as well.

Mary Neary of Hampton Bays and her 13-year-old son, Jesse, brought similar amenities. They live on Rampasture Road, and Neary says that if how high the ocean was on Ponquogue Beach Friday at 5 p.m. is any indicator, her pre-fab house on the bay is definitely at risk during the hurricane. “The waves were worse than what they were showing in Jersey on the news,” she said.

“He wants to go home and ride it out,” Neary said of her son. “I’d rather be here, and be safe.”

Neary added that she has medical issues, and wouldn’t want to put ambulance personnel at risk if she had an emergency during the hurricane and called them to Rampasture Road.

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