Red Cross Shelters Evacuees as Gustav Pounds Gulf Coast
Florida Shelter Evacuees Get Visit From Governor Charlie Christ
PENSACOLA, FL, September 1, 2008 – As Hurricane Gustav roared ashore in Louisiana earlier today, nearly 300 evacuees from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were safe in four Red Cross shelters in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties in Northwest Florida.
Local residents in Northwest Florida — some concerned for the possible flooding of their neighborhoods — also spent the night at Red Cross shelters.
Red Cross staff provided meals, shelter and emotional support to the shelter residents as many face the unknowns about their homes and possessions that may be affected by Gustav.
Residents at shelters in Pensacola and Milton, had a surprise visit today from Florida’s Governor Charlie Christ. The governor visited shelters at the Milton Community Center East Brent Baptist Church. The governor thanked Warner Fleming, the Red Cross shelter manager in Milton, for helping nearly 100 local and out-of-town evacuees who took refuge at the Red Cross shelter.
“It’s volunteers like Warner who really make the difference when we have a situation that affects us,” said Christ. “Not only is he helping our local citizens, but people from Louisiana too,” continued Christ.
A group of thirty-eight evacuees from Biloxi, Mississippi, are students from colleges in Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Slovakia. They are working for the summer at the Hard Rock Casino as part of a work-study exchange program.
Michal Stanak, 23, is from Slovakia and this is not his first visit to the U.S. as part of a cultural exchange program. However, this is his first experience with a hurricane. “Everybody here at the shelter has been very kind and makes us feel welcome,” said Stanak. While at the shelter, Stanak and four other European students assisted Red Cross workers with unloading shelter supplies.
Nadezda Gorbacheva, 19, arrived from Russia in Biloxi earlier this summer to work at the Hard Rock Casino. She was concerned that her parents in Magnitogorsk would see the hurricane on TV and be worried about her well being. Red Cross workers and church representatives assisted Gorbacheva with her phone call to Russia to talk to her family. “My parents are worried about me going back to Biloxi. They want me to come home,” said Gorbacheva. Red Cross staff assured the student that she was in a safe location to ride out the storm.
Diane Hawkins, (850) 418-0543