AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The last bus arrived around 8:15 pm at Westside High School. That shelter is for evacuees seeking medical attention who evacuated from Chatham County, Savannah, Georgia. Emergency crews are also prepping other accommodations in the area for the general population.
It’s been all hands on deck in the Garden City. While people in South Florida and Coastal Georgia are bracing themselves for Hurricane Dorian; Augusta is welcoming in our neighbor states.
“These are citizens in a bad situation,” said Augusta Fire Chief, Christopher James. “It’s unsafe to leave them at home.”
The Richmond County School Systems closed its doors to shelter 3,000 evacuees. Chief James says Augusta is assessing the need for self-evacuee shelters. One being Trinity On The Hill United Methodist Church.
“We first met this morning; we circled up in this facility, and we had a prayer time,” said the administrator of outreach, Julia Crim. “Because first and foremost we want to pray for the safety for those traveling because that’s difficult.”
Trinity On The Hill will house more than 190 people. Crim says this is the fourth year they’ve teamed with the American Red Cross to house evacuees during storms.
“There are a lot of people who stayed here before who are in Chatham County, who started calling yesterday to see if we are going to be open,” explained Crim.
Including one Effingham County couple who told NewsChannel 6 reporter, Devin Johnson, they are all too familiar with hurricanes.
“We don’t usually board up the windows,” said Shirley and Ray Causey. “I mean a lot of people do with plywood and stuff like that. It’s a lot of preparation.”
A lot of these people will be worried about their homes and their loved ones who choose to stay. So Augusta is trying to make their temporary stay here as comfortable as possible.
“It’s amazing how we can all sleep together in one big place,” explained the Causeys. “There is a lot of snoring, and babies crying but you deal with it. You get used to it after a night or two.”
The Augusta Fire Chief gave a brief press conference Monday: asking citizens to help donate with baby and adult diapers, adult wipes and children’s entertainment items. Chief James says he should expect more people to arrive in the next couple of days.
Photojournalist: Will Baker