ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An American Red Cross shelter started taking in Hurricane Irma evacuees at the Albany Civic Center Saturday.
With pillows in hand and even fuzzy stuffed animal companions for some, more and more evacuees are making the walk from their cars to the Albany Civic Center as Hurricane Irma looms.
"I told everybody at work, I'm packing a bag," evacuee Elizabeth Bond said. "I'd rather be over prepared than under prepared."
The rest of Bond's family had the same thought.
They live in a Dougherty County mobile home park and said they understand just how devastating storms can be after a deadly tornado struck in January.
"It just takes one to wipe out a mobile home," evacuee Douglas Derosia said. "It can have the mobile home. We're here. We're going to be safe."
While some had the opportunity to book a hotel room just across the street, many are still making a beeline to the Red Cross shelter that can hold up to 400 people.
"It's not something to ignore," Denise Derosia said. "Once it comes, it's too late to do anything."
So, organizers want to get the word out. They expect to reach full capacity but said all people are welcome to stay out of the rain and the wind.
That's something that resonates with evacuee Derosia, who's looking after her family.
"You know, our family is everything to us," Derosia said. "As they say, you can replace material stuff, but our family is the most important thing and I want them safe, I knew this would be the place to be."
Many others did too, and some are still coming in, with the same goal of staying safe, while riding out the storm.
"I want to make sure my family and others don't become the next victims of any other critical storm," evacuee Devon Bond said.
The shelter opened at 6:00 p.m. Saturday. Evacuees do not need an ID or immigration documentation to stay there.
Around 70 people had already arrived by Saturday around 10:00 p.m.
Organizers said the shelter will stay open as long as it's needed.
Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.