Joe Clendenin has seen this drill before.
The retired Santa Rosa physician, who is volunteering with the American Red Cross in New Jersey, is a veteran of natural disasters.
As always, his immediate concern is for people's health and safety. Longer-term, he worries for their mental well-being.
"They think they're going to get out of here and it's going to be OK. It won't. People lose everything; it takes the wind out of their sails," he said.
By "here," Clendenin was referring to two schools in Pleasantville, N.J., where about 550 people have sought shelter from superstorm Sandy's wrath.
Clendenin arrived on the scene Saturday, before the deluge. He said that by Monday so many people had flooded the shelters that some were forced to sleep upright in chairs in the cafeterias.
The crowding has eased somewhat since, he said.
"We're just trying to make them comfortable. The longer they're here, the antsier they get," he said.
Clendenin is one of six Red Cross volunteers from five North Bay counties who were dispatched to the East Coast to assist with relief efforts.
The Red Cross has deployed more than 2,300 disaster workers to the region from all over the country and shipped in more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals.