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Bernards High Remains Open as Somerset County's Only Shelter

About 40 people may seek shelter on Saturday night, shelter manager said.

Bernards High School's gymnasium remained open on Tuesday, going into Wednesday, as Somerset County's only shelter for those seeking refuge from Sandy's impact. The shelter and is serving those from throughout the region and Bernardsville Borough on an overnight and daytime basis, local officials said.

The number of people seeking shelter has continued to rise, especially as the temperature drops, even as some areas regain power, Janet George Murnick, shelter operations manager for the American Red Cross who also is certified as an emergency responder in Bernardsville, said on Tuesday afternoon.

The shelter has been the only one still operating in Somerset County, she said last week. There were 55 people who were sheltered at the center on Monday night, she said, up from about 40 expected last Saturday.

Those people included a family from Far Hills, a man from the Virgin Islands stranded on a business trip and others from Warren Township and even Berkeley Heights, Murnick said on Tuesday afternoon.

That shelter is being operated by the borough Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross and with the cooperation of the Somerset Hills regional school district, she said.

About 40 people from throughout the area were expected on Saturday, Murnick said at about 6 p.m., although she said she wasn't sure at that time. Previously operating shelters in Manville and at Raritan Valley Community College reportedly had been closed by Saturday.

About 30 people from around the county had been in the shelter on Friday night, and others were in the shelter's special needs section where those who rely on oxygen and other life-essential medical equipment were being supervised closely, and were attended by a nurse, Murnick said.

Borough residents have also been dropping by during the day to schedule showers and to recharge batteries and electronics devices, the shelter's volunteers said.

Murnick said that about 150 borough residents had been coming to the shelter to charge up, shower and warm up during the day before going home.

Showers were being scheduled for 10 minutes, starting at 6 a.m., she said. The high school's girls and boys gym showers are available, she said.

Murnick said the Red Cross has been serving two hot meals a day for lunch and dinner, and a cold breakfast.

She said the shelter will remain open as long as needed.

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