Evacuees find support, hope at shelter

Published 4:15 pm Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ramona Whitaker, Janice Price and Ernest Hines discuss housing options after hurricane damage at their homes. (WDN Photo/Ray McKeithan)

Conditions at the shelter set up at P.S. Jones Middle School were far better than conditions at 88 W. Second St. in Washington, said Janice Price.

She should know. She lives at 88 W. Second St., but not during the height of Hurricane Irene. Instead, she rode out the storm in the shelter.

“It’s alright here, but I’ve got water a foot deep in my apartment; started in the back room, came on through, it’s a mess,” Price said Sunday while at the shelter.

“We got it, too,” Ramona Whitaker added. “I know Ernest got some, too,” she said, pointing to the man in their impromptu huddle.

“Yep, was coming up through the floors. I think everybody got some of it,” said Ernest Hines, referring to their Washington apartment complex.

The three neighbors were enjoying sunlight Sunday morning, relieved to have a place to stay amid uncertainty.

“We don’t know,” they said in unison when asked what they were going to do next.

“I’ve got a job at Flanders Filters,” said Price. “I guess we’re going to stay here as long as they’ll let us. I want to get to work.”

“Things are pretty good here,” Whitaker offered, “We don’t know how long we can stay, but that’s all I know to do for a while.”

The group commiserated in the designated smoking area, just off the boundary of the school campus.

“We’re all together here, just like we are in town,” said Price, “We’re grouped together in there, too,” she said, pointing to the Red Cross shelter. “That’s the way we want it.”

Members of the extended Boomer family enjoyed a nice walk on a sunny, summer morning. Smiles and laughter replaced the serious mood found during the hurricane, just hours before.

“We’re blessed,” said Terrell Boomer. “We’re grateful that we had some place to stay and that we didn’t have much damage.”

Her comments were affirmed by the nods of her daughter and young nieces walking with her.

John Boomer Jr. smiled as he listened.

”They’ve been good to us,” he said, referring to the Red Cross personnel and volunteers who helped them. “The atmosphere has been loving, nice and peaceful.”

“There’s 16 of us, in my family here, and we’re all in the same area of the room,” said Terrell Boomer. “We’ve been here since Friday. We live in Parkview, Topsail Lane and other places in town. They’ve (Red Cross) provided cots, given us three meals a day, snacks, games and puzzles for the kids. They’ve been wonderful!”

Asked how she and other could be so upbeat after such a stressful ordeal, Terrell Boomer said, “Trusting in God.”

“That’s it,” added John Boomer Jr. as the young girls continued to nod and smile.