Red Cross keeps one shelter open in Macon for Irma victims


MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – One evacuation shelter is still open in Macon, two days after Tropical Storm Irma slammed Middle Georgia.

The East Macon Recreation Center is taking on the storm’s victims, even though the shelter lost its power and front signage when Irma struck Macon.

“We’re going to be in this community as long as we need to be to help the people here,” American Red Cross spokesperson, Colin Williams said. “A lot of people can’t go back to where they live.”

Ahead of the storm, five shelters opened in Macon. Now that it’s the only one left, the East Macon Rec Center was busy Wednesday with evacuees and volunteers. Williams spoke about a woman with five children who had a tree fall through her home. Irma’s victims are left leaning on the Red Cross and its volunteers, like Gwen Powell, who traveled all the way from Arizona to help.

“This is what I do, I want to go, I need to be there to do what little bit I can to help,” Powell said.

As most evacuees pack up and head home, it’s the ones that have to stay that Powell is trying to help.

“They’re scared and worried but there’s a little bit of comfort and hope for the future and its given to them by the volunteers in the shelter knowing that the American Red Cross will be their throughout their storm.” Powell said.

To the American Red Cross, that comfort is what shelters are all about.

“It’s unbelievably special and humbling to know that people from across the United States have come here to Georgia to participate in this huge disaster,” Williams said.

As of Wednesday, more than 40 storm victims and evacuees were inside the East Macon Rec Center. The Red Cross plans to keep it open for as long as people need it.