News 12 at 6 o'clock, September 3, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---As the coast prepares for Tropical Storm Hanna, Augusta is the primary evacuation city for South Carolina. That could mean lots of guests, and the Red Cross is getting ready for them.
Volunteer Pearlene Franklin is doing all she can to turn the James Brown Arena into a home away from home.
The Red Cross is getting ready for as many as 1,800 people to come to Augusta, evacuating from T.S. Hanna.
"I like disasters. I don't like that they happen to people because I know what impact it has on them but I like being there for them," said Franklin.
She's been volunteering with them for more than 18 years. Her heart goes into it because she was a victim, herself, when a fire destroyed her home. That's why she can relate to evacuees.
"You're frightened. You're scared. You don't know what to expect. So we have to make sure it's safe, that everything is for their well-being," said Franklin.
The Red Cross has about 200 volunteers like her, ready for any gusts of people. The executive director says it's times like these when the red cross is at its best.
"We have everything in place to respond. We don't have to wait at that moment to raise funds to be able to do that. We have everything in place," said Jo Maypole, executive director.
And that means about 250 cots, with hundreds more ready to come in from Atlanta, depending on how many people evacuate here.
They're also prepared with food, blankets, and security.
"So we're ready. We're just waiting for them," said Franklin.
And even if Hanna changes course and no one comes here, they say it's good practice for the next disaster.
The Red Cross will also have volunteers at welcome stations along the interstate. They'll give evacuees water and snacks and tell them where they can stay.
If the James Brown Arena gets full, the next place people will go is Warren Baptist Church on Washington Road. If that is filled the back-up shelter is Wesley United Methodist Church in Columbia County.