East Georgians enjoy calm weather in Lowndes Co. - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

East Georgians enjoy calm weather in Lowndes Co.

The Red Cross shelter in Valdosta (Source: WALB) The Red Cross shelter in Valdosta (Source: WALB)
Shanna Sentino (Source: WALB) Shanna Sentino (Source: WALB)
Pastor Gabe Bailie (Source: WALB) Pastor Gabe Bailie (Source: WALB)
Stella Butler (Source: WALB) Stella Butler (Source: WALB)
Thomas Smith (Source: WALB) Thomas Smith (Source: WALB)
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

As Hurricane Matthew threatens the coast of Georgia, many of our fellow Georgians are seeking a safe place to stay in Southwest Georgia, and many of them are finding themselves in shelters.

There are a lot of families at a Red Cross Shelter in Valdosta and many of them are happy they get to stay here together and don't have to split up.

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Some say this shelter is providing some much needed relief during this extremely stressful situation. "It feels kind of crazy just not knowing what to do or where to go," said Shanna Sentino of Hinesville.

When Sentino evacuated last night finding a place to stay wasn't easy. She went to three shelters. All were completely full. And finding a hotel, nearly impossible. "We thought maybe we're not going to find a place, we'll just stay in the car."

And her story is like many others. "We tried all the motels and there were no vacancies," said Stella Butler of Camden County.

Until they found the Red Cross Shelter at Crosspoint Church in Valdosta. The Church now serves as a safe Haven for folks fleeing Hurricane Matthew. "They have taken my mind totally off of the storm! I'm having a ball," Shanna said with a laugh.

While storm coverage is on the TV, games and movies are entertaining kids. "I was just sleeping and now I'm going to play!" said young Thomas Smith. "Now if the storm goes away, then we can go to our house!" 

"We're going to set up a projector and a movie and all that kind of stuff and we've got popcorn," said Crosspoint Pastor Gabe Bailie.

Families are still nervous about their homes, but for now they are staying positive and enjoying the one good thing Hurricane Matthew is bringing: Family time. "It's taking our mind off a lot that we left back home," Stella Butler said.  "We're just going to play UNO and eat and enjoy." 

"Spending more time together, you really don't get that. Maybe that's what Matthew is all about," said Shanna.

This shelter will remain open for families for as long as it needs to, but as of Friday afternoon, the shelter was at capacity. Lowndes County EMA estimates that the population has actually increased by roughly 10,000 people.

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