Red Cross sets up shelters
Published 2:11 pm Monday, September 5, 2005
By By Tim Cottrell
Atmore residents know how it feels to be decimated by a hurricane.
While Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis certainly did not cause the damage to Atmore that Hurricane Katrina has wrought just west of this area, Atmore residents are stepping up to the plate to help.
A meeting held Thursday afternoon at David's Catfish House in Atmore brought several church and business leaders, as well as local emergency personnel, with the West Escambia Chapter of the American Red Cross to discuss options for housing refugees from the storm.
Red Cross Director Charlotte Boyle spoke of the need to establish a shelter for refugees coming up I-65 to escape New Orleans, Mississippi, and Mobile.
As of Thursday there were over 100 residents of storm-affected areas staying in the Best Western off I-65, as well as nearly 40 more staying in the Southland and Greenlawn Motels. Many were nearly out of money, so Boyle believed a shelter was greatly needed.
Harold Askew, pastor of New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on MLK Drive said that he had had 14 boarders in his church, but those would soon be moving out. He said he had the capacity to house 20-25 people, but did not have showers.
Each pastor present said he was facing the same problems.
Boyle preferred for whatever shelter the town would use – which would not be a Red Cross-approved shelter – should have plenty of room for boarders, kitchen facilities, air conditioning, bathrooms, and showers.
One option that was discussed was the use of the old middle school, which has been used to housework crews coming in to repair damage from the past two hurricanes. Unfortunately, Public Safety Director Glenn Carlee pointed out that portions of the building were set to be demolished this week.
Carlee and Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee brought up the possibility of providing busses or gas money to refugees to send them to two shelters open across the county in Brewton at the Brewton YMCA and the Cornerstone Community Church. All agreed that that was a good option, but Boyle and several others agreed that Atmore should try to help as much as possible.
Eventually it was decided that St. Robert's Catholic Church and New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church would serve as short-term shelters for refugees, and that the Poarch gym would be available for showers to refugees. It was also agreed that everyone would be bussed to St. Robert's once a day for a hot meal.
Red Cross Director Charlotte Boyle said that more shelters could be announced in the near future.