Storm shelter half empty; some have nowhere to go

May 5, 2014 3:48:52 PM

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LOUISVILLE -- More than half of the 70 people who took shelter at a church in Louisville after Monday's tornado have found another place to stay. 

 

Those who remain have few choices. 

 

JoAnn Haynes and her entire family -- her daughter, four grandchildren, her sister and her mother -- are in the American Red Cross shelter at First Baptist Church. 

 

They all lived in the same neighborhood. Each lost everything. The Clarion-Ledger reported. 

 

Haynes said she herself is in good shape but she's concerned about the children and her mother, who suffers from seizures and requires daily medication. 

 

"Give me a pair of pants, a shirt and a bra and I'm good to go. Give me a bar of soap, and I'll bathe anywhere," Haynes said. "It's the young ones and the old ones -- the ones that can't fend for themselves -- that keep me worried." 

 

The shelter opened the evening the tornado ripped through town. Nobody's being made to leave; they're just finding better places to stay, said Dan Curran, chairman of deacons at First Baptist. 

 

"The gymnasium we have them in is not a great place for anybody to be. You sneeze, you've got 15 people saying gesundheit. Everybody wants their privacy, and I think that's why they're going home," he said. 

 

Felicia Hickman said she could find places for her family and herself if they were willing to all go to separate houses. They are not willing. 

 

"I thought they were gone. When it came I thought they were gone, so I just want my kids to be where I'm at," Hickman said. 

 

There are more volunteers at the First Baptist shelter now than people there to be served. Many volunteers are being sent to affected neighborhoods. 

 

"As of last night, my count was 8,100 meals served since Tuesday. We're really expecting the biggest day we've had tomorrow," said Ray Ables, a spokesman for Tyson Foods, which has set up a feeding center behind First Baptist. "They've got different kinds of meats. Operation: BBQ Relief has been here, so we've had more than just chicken. But, certainly, we've had a lot of chicken, too." 

 

But it will be a long time before homes are rebuilt, and many affected didn't have insurance. Without a roof, the shelter remains the only and best option. 

 

"I've got nowhere to go. I have family, but my family hasn't come to see me at all," said Rahesia Holmes. 

 

All three of her children were hospitalized during the storm. Two still need treatment and recovery from their injuries. 

 

Still, all three women know they're luckier than the 14 people killed by tornadoes, and those people's families. 

 

"By the grace of the Lord, everything is possible," Haynes said. "He brought me through that. There's nothing he can't do."