Florida evacuees seek shelter in Huntersville

- Florida and South Carolina evacuees found a warm place to stay this weekend at the Red Cross Shelter in Huntersville. It’s one of five in the state.

Families packed what they could and hit the road, not knowing where they would end up. More than 500 miles away from their home at J.M. Alexander Middle School they found a warm smile, food, and shelter.

“We don’t have enough words to say thank you.” Laura Gil. She and her family evacuated Orlando ahead of Irma.

She and her brother’s family packed up and left the sunshine state at 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

“We are so afraid about the hurricane,” Gil said.

Irma’s wrath pushed them north. They went as far as South Carolina before stopping for the night.

“All the hotels close to the area was increased so much the price. Regular hotels that cost $50 a night, start to require more than $120 a night. We are so many people, we cannot afford $300 a night,” said Gil.

They weren’t alone. 25 people stayed the night Sunday at the Red Cross Shelter in Huntersville.

“We had a pair of folks in their 80’s who had been through 25-30 storms in their life down in Florida. They were on their way to Ohio. They said they’d never seen a storm as bad as this one. That was what prompted them to leave. They had never left for a storm before,” said Steve Nason, a disaster program specialist for the Red Cross.

As for the family from Orlando, they plan to head south on Tuesday. Their neighbors who rode out the storm say they don’t have electricity, but at least there’s no flooding.

“We don’t have enough words to say thank you. Thank you to the red cross, the volunteers. We’ve been supported in every way. We received food, they’ve taken care of the kids. They’re been so prepared. They are awesome.” GIL

Pets were also welcome at the shelter and CMPD’s Animal Care and Control are offering free emergency shelter for pets for up to two weeks. Disaster boarding is available for up to six weeks for a fee.

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