Washington High School serving as storm shelter through Saturday

Published 11:33 am Thursday, September 5, 2019

 Hurricane Dorian has made the trek to eastern North Carolina, and as the community made its storm preparations, Washington High School was the destination for many Beaufort County residents trying to stay out of Dorian’s way.

The American Red Cross set up shop at the school and opened the doors beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday morning. The shelter can house residents until the storm passes Friday evening.

Red Cross members from all around the country have come to help support the Beaufort County community stretching as far as Illinois, to Texas and California, according to the regional shelter leader, Sandy Becker. Becker, who has been with the Red Cross since 2011, said the max capacity for the shelter is around 170 people.

“Right now, we’re just checking everybody in, making sure they’re comfortable and have everything they need,” Becker said Thursday morning. “We have a medical staff here to take care of whatever may pop up, and we have two generators to maintain operations if the town loses power.”

Cots have been set up all throughout the gym at Washington High School in preparation for Hurricane Dorian on Thursday morning. (Ashley Vansant / Daily News)

As the influx of people into the shelter started to slow down, Becker mentioned that they might be expecting buses of people to file in later Thursday morning.

A couple originally from Salem, New Hampshire, said they plan on moving back up north to avoid the hurricanes. They currently reside in Belhaven and were forced to evacuate their home during Hurricane Florence last year, when three feet of water surrounded their home.

“In the snow, you shovel it out and go about your day,” David Degarmo said.

“You can’t shovel water out of the way,” Vanessa Degarmo added.

The Degarmos were determined to be ahead of the storm this time and not be forced to evacuate into a Humvee with all of their animals like they did during Hurricane Florence.

Becker said people haven’t really shown any signs of fearfulness about Hurricane Dorian.

“This is just part of life, nobody has been freaking out or anything,” Becker said. “Everyone has remained calm and been very appreciative of why we’re here and what we’re doing for them.”

The Red Cross mission states the organization exists to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.