Wake Forest shelter is home for some victims

Posted April 21, 2011 9:58 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2011 6:25 p.m. EDT

— Heritage High School in Wake Forest has become a place where about 130 people eat, rest and shower.

For Rosemary Gutierrez, it is where she goes to break down.

“When I go to the showers, I cry,” she said.

Gutierrez, her husband and three children are staying in the shelter, along with other residents whose homes suffered damage at the Stony Brook North mobile home park in Raleigh.

“It was raining hard and the sky turned black,” she said of Saturday's storm. 

A tornado tore the community apart Saturday, killing three children and leaving about half of the 200 mobile home units there uninhabitable. A fourth child died of her injuries days later.. 

Gutierrez  said she hides her uncertainty about the future and pain from her family.

“I don’t want them to see me crying because it is hard,” she said.

Gutierrez can apply for federal help, but many of her neighbors cannot because they are illegally in this country.

“We cannot provide monetary assistance,” FEMA spokesperson Dasha Castillo said.

Castillo said FEMA does work with other agencies that can help those in the country illegally. However, she said many illegal residents will not come forward for help for fear of being found out.

“We are not here to process anyone. We are here to help,” Castillo said.



Volunteer Rosalie Bocelli said illegal residents do not feel going back to Mexico is an option.

“There are a lot of killings and they are afraid to go back. It is worse than here,” Bocelli said.

The Heritage High shelter is closing after this weekend. The American Red Cross is working to make arrangements to get victims to another shelter.