The shelter in the Atlantic City Convention Center shelter is a huge sprawling hall with a constant wave of people arriving and leaving in a regular ebb and flow each day. Some families have just arrived from other shelters, some go back to devastated houses, and some come back to stay for what might be weeks.
Many of those who come to shelters in New Jersey—like this one run by the Red Cross—are families who can least afford to lose a week’s wages, a refrigerator of food, or a room full of furniture, much less a house or apartment. They are working class or poor families, usually with kids. As is the case here in Atlantic City, kids make up at least 25% of the population in shelters in affected areas.
I met many of these kids on my visit today and they all had stories to share.
Alondra is 17. She and her extended family—mom, dad, uncle, aunt, siblings and cousins—have an area with cots pushed together in one corner of the hall. She told me how she had first gone to a shelter at Rutgers University the weekend before the storm when they heard about the threat to the area where they lived in downtown Atlantic City. But now Rutgers needs to get students back to class and her family was bused to the Atlantic City shelter yesterday. While they were grateful