Civic center shelters a community in itself

Donna Anderson (Source: WALB)
Donna Anderson (Source: WALB)
There are over 100 cots on the floor of the Civic Center (Source: WALB)
There are over 100 cots on the floor of the Civic Center (Source: WALB)
Allyson Stauffer (Source: WALB)
Allyson Stauffer (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Albany Civic Center has morphed to fit the needs of storm victims.

"They do you really nice here man," said Horace Gardner who has been in the shelter since Monday. "It's a good place to be if you ain't got nowhere to go."

The 70-year-old has lived in Albany since 1963.

He was one of 76 people who spent the night in the Civic Center Tuesday night.

Like many of those who he shares a living space with now, his home is destroyed, and he's waiting out his options in shelter.

Being displaced could make one feel powerless, but mother of two Allyson Stauffer says there's strength in a shared struggle.

"That's the way I felt, helpless, but if you know somebody going through the same thing you are, and they're here, it makes people feel better," said Stauffer.

Stauffer is a victim turned volunteer.

The American Red Cross has had plenty of help at the shelter by way of volunteers and donations.

The sense of communitarianism has been felt throughout the recovery process.

"They've been very good," said shelter manager Donna Anderson. "The people are interacting quite well with themselves. There seems to be a lot of Camaraderie."

"You can sort of help them and acclimate them to the environment," said Stauffer. "They might be scared of what's going on so you tell them, 'hey, I've been here' and you can show the where things are."

People are fed three times per day, have access to showers and a few options for recreation.

Two nights ago there were 115 in shelter. The number continues to dwindle as the Red Cross continues to get folks back on their feet.

"I believe in letting people help me, but I believe in when I can help myself, I can help myself, and then try and help somebody else," said Gardner.

The Red cross said there's no time limit on how long the Civic Center will remain open.

It's a temporary fix, and as long as there's a need, they will be there for Albany.

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