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Still Left In The Dark After Hurricane, Many On East Coast Moving In With Friends

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Many on the East Coast are moving in with friends while power and gas are restored to their homes. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Many on the East Coast are moving in with friends while power and gas are restored to their homes. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jill Meltz lives in an Upper West Side high-rise — just a one-bedroom, but far from the havoc wreaked by Superstorm Sandy in lower Manhattan. And she graciously shared her good fortune with some dear friends.

Meltz, an advertising executive, took in a couple from the city’s hard-hit Chelsea section along with their baby and 4-year-old child. In fact, she gave up her bedroom for them, sleeping on the living room sofa.

“It wasn’t ideal, but we actually had a lot of fun,” she said.

Around the metropolitan area, some of those lucky enough to escape the storm’s wrath have taken in Sandy’s displaced — friends, neighbors and colleagues who have fled their cold, dark homes in search of food, light, a hot shower and juice for their cellphones, iPads and laptops.

And the generosity toward the storm’s victims has extended well beyond the big city. In Charlotte, N.C., Brian Cockman and his partner have welcomed a revolving door of people stranded by canceled flights.

“Charlotte is now the Sandy refugee headquarters,” Cockman joked Thursday. “It’s better to stay with a friend than to spend the extra money on a hotel. It’s been great to reconnect.”

Purvi Sevak, her husband and their two children, ages 5 and 8, lost power in their third-floor condominium in lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, but they didn’t have to go far for refuge when enough became enough Wednesday.

Sevak and the kids moved into the two-bedroom apartment of friend Melissa Connor and her husband in Battery Park City on Manhattan’s southern tip, an area that still had electricity. Sevak’s husband stayed home in the dark with their elderly cat. Connor’s children are the same age as Sevak’s.

“Believe it or not, it’s not insane,” Sevak said Thursday. “I jokingly told the kids we were going to home-school, so we’re having a mock election. I’m Mitt Romney.”

The two moms are preparing pots of chili and buffets for dozens of powerless friends in search of a hot meal.

Connor didn’t have to think twice about playing host.

“We lived down here during 9/11,” she said. “We had people take us in and help us out, so we’ve been on the other side of the coin.”

In Cranford, N.J., Andre Rivera, wife Elizabeth and their two kids, ages 3 and 5, haven’t forgotten Hurricane Irene last year, when their three-bedroom house was heavily damaged. Now that the house is fixed, it’s their turn to return the favor to relatives and neighbors.

“We’ve got my sister-in-law and her two kids from Mount Kisco and my neighbor with his wife and 8-month-old,” he said. “They’ve all gone above and beyond for me and our kids, so we sent a note out right away that we have power and to come.”

And come they have, a dozen or more in search of food, a place to work and electricity for charging their gadgets. Most were not looking to sleep over.

“All day was a revolving door,” Rivera said. “They’ve been bringing whatever food they have.”

Sandy has turned the Upper West Side apartment of Karen Kriendler Nelson, an arts publicist, into “a roving bed and breakfast.” Nelson first hosted stranded assistant Donna Leah Smith, who stayed through Thursday morning in the three-bedroom apartment before heading home to Philadelphia, from which she commutes to New York once a week.

On Wednesday, Gregory Downer, an art director of Opera News magazine, arrived with his dachshund Ziggy.

Nelson prepared chicken with apricot-peach glaze one night, and another night she made string beans and couscous to go with the halibut Downer had brought.

As for the dog, Nelson said her teacup Maltese, Pino, “reluctantly welcomed Ziggy into the house; they now have a truce.”

Bob Payne’s house in Pelham Manor, north of the city, still has power while many others in his neighborhood are without. He and his family had three sleepover guests Wednesday night.

Also, “I’ve got a neighbor boy, a high school senior, who showed up at the door about an hour ago, his computer in hand,” Payne said Thursday. “His college application is due. He’s sitting at my dining room table.”

Payne has no idea why his electricity was spared.

“It’s strange,” he said. “You feel really guilty that everything you have works.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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