Emergency shelter opens at Washington High School

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

As Hurricane Florence approaches, Beaufort County Emergency Management and the Beaufort County Chapter of the American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at Washington High School today to provide shelter for those seeking refuge from the storm.

Located at 400 Slatestone Road with a capacity of 500 people, the shelter provides a safe place to stay with basic amenities, according to Beaufort County Emergency Management officials. The shelter will supply food, a cot, a pillow and a blanket, but depending on how many people arrive at the shelter, there may not be enough cots, pillows and blankets for everyone.

“We try to provide every person with a cot, but it depends on our influx and number of people as to whether or not we’ll have those available at the time they arrive,” said Chris Newkirk, Operations Chief for Fire and Emergency Management with the Beaufort County Emergency Services. “It’s all just depending on time and how many people we get into the shelter. But the biggest benefit of that shelter is a safe place to stay.”

People planning to stay in the shelters are encouraged to bring their own pillows and blankets for comfort, as well as essential personal items, such as any required medications, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other personal hygiene items. Newkirk said people should plan on staying at the shelter for several days.

“This will not be, most likely, will not be a one-night stay in a shelter. They need to be prepared to stay several days, because realistically we could be looking at rain and wind and the elements of this storm in our area through Saturday, possibly into Sunday,” Newkirk said. “The next phase of this storm, the next challenge is going to be in the middle of next week, as all the water that may be dumped in the Piedmont starts to travel through our river basins. So how long we expect to have somebody in shelters, obviously it’s going to be until it’s safe for them to return to their areas. But we just don’t know how long exactly that might be. As long as there is a hazard for those people in the communities, we’re going to do our best to support them with shelter and a safe place to stay.”

Alcohol, illicit drugs and firearms are not allowed in the shelter. Pets aren’t allowed either, but service animals are. Those with pets seeking shelter can place their animals at the animal shelter located at Beaufort County Animal Control at 3931 U.S. Highway 264. A voucher, which is available at the human shelter, is needed to shelter pets with Animal Control.