Alachua County Shelters Open
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
As the rain fell, residents started trickling in within a few hours of the shelters opening--and before the big storm hit. People stuffed towels, clothes, toiletries and all valuables into few black trash bags.
"I had to get up and out of there," says Gainesville resident David Young. "Me and my wife and my mother-in-law and father-in-law. We had to get up out of there. I didn't want to stay too long."
One shelter is at Rawlings Elementary School for the general public. But after a short lunch break, Young and his family had to pack up again. As of Thursday afternoon, more than a dozen people including Young and his family have come here to Westwood Middle School to the special medical needs shelter.
Volunteers with the Red Cross are staffing the shelter...many for the first time.
"All they have to do is say, 'Will you come?' and I'm here," says Red Cross volunteer Tina Stormant. "I want to give back."
"It's a good time to be here for the first time," says volunteer Ed Boyer. "Because we don't have any residents here so we have been getting training all morning."
But the lack of residents needing shelter did not last. And with food and snacks ready to go, the Red Cross was ready was ready for them.
"It's a good test run for us to get everybody out and get them involved," says Red Cross Executive Director Laura Mager. "We've been lucky enough in the last two years to not be affected by the storms."
Even the hassle of packing up again in the rain couldn't dampen Young's spirit.
"I'm just thankful to be here," says Young. "I'm just thankful to be here."
"It's a beautiful place, well equipped, and we're ready," says Boyer. "The Red Cross is ready."
If you are coming to a shelter, you should be ready too... bring toiletries, a change of clothes, medications, a flashlight, and don't forget book, cards or things to keep you entertained.
Four things that are not allowed inside the shelter are weapons, drugs, alcohol and pets. Animal Services will take your pet to a safe location if you bring it to a shelter in a carrier, with food and proof of up- to- date vaccination information.
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