Chipley Shelter

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

This is not just a Bay County problem. There are displaced families all along Interstate 10. The Red Cross has opened at least two shelters in that area.

Before it's over Katrina may be known as the great American tragedy. This disaster has created similar stories, all with heartbreaking details.

The Red Cross has opened it doors in Chipley to help families like Maria Tabuyo's, who couldn't afford their hotel anymore.

Maria says, "We just run out of money. At least we have a place to sleep tonight."

The family's been in Chipley since they evacuated from Pascagula, Mississippi on Sunday. It's been rough leaving their home, running out of money and living in a shelter, but the hardest part for Maria is seeing the pictures of the storm damage on TV. She says it's not reassuring to know they may have nothing left to return too.

"We were in a hurry, so I think all I did was bring my kids’ birth certificate and all that, but I left my kids’ pictures at home."

Ryan and his fiancé Miranda have also been in Chipley since Sunday. They've been living in a tent in a state park until their money started running short. Unfortunately, they can't get back to Mississippi just yet.

Ryan Vandermeulen says, "Were being told that all the roads are closed, so we're gonna take advantage of the Red Cross shelter. We're kind of running low on funds and food and what not."

You can find food and a place to sleep here, but Red Cross officials say many of these people need more than that.

"We've had some folks offered to come by just to be listeners. To sit down with them, listen to their story, cry with them, try to offer some comfort. They don't have answers and we're not here to provide answers. We're here to make them comfortable and provide what we can."

So far, there are about 30 evacuees that call the ag center in Chipley home for now. Officials say they expect people to continue to trickle in.

Red Cross has also opened a shelter in Defuniak Springs at the National Guard Armory on 9th Street.


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