Westside High School set as shelter for Chatham County hurricane evacuees

Monday, September 2, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Evacuees from Chatham County have started arriving in Augusta and we expect more over the next couple of days.

Westside high school is where the first official shelter has been set up.

It's now a home away from home

"We have comfort kits and blankets, food has been arranged. We are ready to go."

There are 150 people/patients are on one side in gym 1 and their families on the other side in gym 2. They've made the trek, about 150 miles to Augusta for safety and security.

As for Cindy Benson, she made the trek all this way from Oregon just to help.

"I was a nurse a long time ago and when you're a nurse, you have passion in your heart," said Benson, a volunteer.

Passion in their hearts, boots to the ground, and adrenaline pumping, she expects this shelter to be a life-saving measure.

"We are looking at Dorian to be similar to our response with Hurricane Irma two years go, where we sheltered a little over 3000 people. We had 16 shelters that we opened then and that's the type of response we are looking at," Susan Everitt, with the Augusta Red Cross.

Red Cross has been taking donations and prepping to stage additional school locations as potential shelters for about a week now.

It's just a matter of being on standby waiting to provide more refuge to more evacuees.

"As soon as we hear that people are coming in to open shelters, we'll send some volunteers in to be able to greet and take care of our neighbors," said Everitt.

Although Dorian's wrath on coastal Georgia is still uncertain, officials from city leaders to the mayor, to emergency crews want to be certain they are ready to strike just as soon as Dorian does.