Evacuees find safety at emergency shelters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Evacuees find safety at emergency shelters

September 5, 2004

Valdosta - Thousands of Florida hurricane evacuees have filled all the hotels in Valdosta, now more than 500 people are staying at emergency shelters.

A matress on a hard concrete floor isn't exactly a hotel suite, but its a safe haven for the Cerda family. "We were sleeping in a parking lot because all of the hotels are full," said Adriana Cerda.

Adriana and six other family members left their home in Ft. Pierce, Florida and are staying at Mathis City Auditorium with about 60 other hurricane evacuees. "They're donating food for us to eat, we have showers, bathrooms, everything you could possibly need," said Adriana.

Most of the time here is spent watching weather forecasts, playing games, or calling home for updates on the damage. "We've heard from our family that there's no electricity and the streets are flooded," said Adriana.

The shelter is only about half full right now, but Red Cross volunteers expect some local residents to come in tonight as the storm draws closer. "Its going to be people in mobile homes because of the wind and rain they're expecting," said Bob Sheldon, Red Cross Volunteer.

The Cerda family isn't sure when they might head back to Florida, so for now they'll make their home in Valdosta and hope the house they left behind will make it through the storm.

Cingular donated a cell phone so the evacuees can call home for free.

America's Second Harvest Food Bank and local restaurants are providing food.

posted at 2:55 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com