As evacuees stay in shelters, stress levels can rise

As hurricane shelters begin to close, evacuees are forced into other accommodations, adding to worries about when they'll return home and what they'll find there.

Posted Updated

Allen Mask
, M.D., Health Team physician

While hurricane flood waters remain high in parts of the state, many people are facing another week in shelters.

Some of those facilities are closing, forcing residents into other accommodations. For many, that's adding to worries about when they'll return home and what they'll find when they get there.

Early on as Florence threatened a northwest path toward Raleigh, Louise Bledson fled her Jones County home for a Fayetteville shelter.

“Then they bused us here because the river was going to grow,” she said from a shelter at the University of North Carolina Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The center now serves as an American Red Cross shelter.

An Orange County shelter closed on Friday, sending more residents here.

Red Cross workers said they understand that every move intensifies stress.

“They left their cars two shelters ago at a parking lot, and they don't even know when they'll be able to get back,” said Josh Moskowitz, an American Red Cross preparedness manager.

Cassidy Penney, an American Red Cross spokeswoman, said the storm and its recovery are “a very emotional time for a lot of people.”

“That's where our disaster mental health and spiritual care professionals come into play,” she said.

The Friday Center is near UNC Hospitals, so it offers a rich supply of medical support.

Case workers are on site to help iron out home issues.

Christina Mebane, 34, lives in Camelot apartments just a few miles away, where flood waters forced out many residents.

“I have no furniture, nothing,” she said.

“I had to get rescued out of my apartment with a boat,” she continued.

Mebane is running into delays with FEMA, she said.

“They told me to wait until my application gets accepted,” she said.

Some know their home is ruined, but Bledson knows her home is still standing.

“But I don’t know what the inside is,” she said.

One thing she doesn’t have to worry about is moving to another shelter.

“American Red Cross is here for people who still don't have a home to go to,” Penney said.

The American Red Cross depends heavily on donations to help those they serve. People can donate on


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.