Evacuees ride out storm in Demopolis

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 16, 2004

The power blinked off at the National Guard Armory in Demopolis as a group of evacuees from Mobile sat and chatted, read the newspaper or slept. Only about 10 people remained from the almost 75 refugees that sought shelter from the storm Wednesday night.

“Most of them have returned home now,” Sgt. First class Robin Hackworth said.

He said the power had gone out for several hours during the night, but said because of the timing, most of the sheltered were asleep. Power was on at about 4 p.m., but flickered out 30 minutes later.

Two women from Mobile sat at a table covered with newspapers and crossword puzzle books. They said they had arrived from Mobile Wednesday and had ridden out the storm rather well at the armory.

“(The night) went well considering,” said Joan Whittington of Mobile.

Sitting across the table from her was Ethel Brown, also from Mobile. “It was nice,” she said, adding that it was nicer now she had gotten a report from home.

“My son-in-law just called and said my house is alright,” she said.

A massive tent was set up in the middle of the armory floor, with numerous cots set up in and around it. A couple of people slept, while three others chatted away the time.

“We were alright,” Felecia Craig said. “We were very comfortable to say the least.”

“And safe,” added fellow refugee Ned Brown. Craig and Sarah Lynaum, another refugee, nodded their heads in agreement. “Yes, safe.”

The group arrived Wednesday afternoon from Mobile. They said driving conditions yesterday were alright, but added they took back roads instead of main thoroughfares.

“I have to say this is a lovely city,” Lynaum said. The group agreed they would like to have seen more of the fair Demopolis, but had not been able to because of the weather.

They said the shelter experience had not been a bad one.

“It was real pleasant,” Craig said. “I was able to get a hot shower and change clothes,” she said. “And they fed us a hot meal,” Lynaum added.

Craig’s home in Mobile had also weathered the storm, according to family members.

“I just got off the phone with my son and he said my house was fine,” she said. She said she had been worried because her yard contained a lot of old pine trees. “But he said there wasn’t even a limb in the yard,” he said. Still, the evacuees feel they made the right decision by coming north.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Brown said. “If we had stayed, we might have been blown away.”

The evacuees have not heard when they might be able to return home, but Ethel Brown said she had heard 48 hours.

“I talked with Demopolis Police Department today and they said if it’s not an emergency, stay put,” Hackworth said.

And that is exactly what the evacuees at the National Guard Armory shelter are doing. They have their cots and blankets, a hot shower and meals, and they have each other.