VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach officials have opened the doors to their first emergency shelter ahead of Hurricane Florence.
The shelter is located at Kellam High School just off West Neck Road.
“I think what people can expect when they walk in the door is that it’s a clean and safe environment. We hope to keep people comfortable here until the storm event or winter event passes,” said Human Services Director, Dannette Smith.
Smith says their team will be providing meals to those staying at the shelter.
The shelter will hit capacity at 1,200 people.
One of the men evacuating, John Huff, is no stranger to tropical storms.
He says he’s homeless and watched Hurricane Matthew’s destruction firsthand while trying to survive on the city streets.
“I knew I couldn’t sleep outside because it would be too hard on me. Plus last time I almost got hit by a tree branch, tree branches were flying all over the place. Tree branches were flying everywhere,” said Huff.
Also checking in Wednesday evening was Simone Mason.
Mason and her mother live in Zone C, but decided they weren’t taking any chances after what they experienced two years ago.
Their home is on South Plaza Trail and they say the whole strip went under water.
“There’s about 4 or 5 ways into the neighborhood, each and every one flooded last time a hurricane came through and there was no way in, no way out. I had to stay in a hotel for two days because I couldn’t get to my parents,” explained Mason.
She says a lot of their neighbors lost everything.
“Even though we’re told it might not be as bad, we still want to get out just in case,” she added.
Officials say if many people don’t show up, there is a chance they would move those already in the shelter into housing and close the operation.
Smith says they are still going to wait it out and see before working that option.
It’s also important to note — no pets are allowed in this shelter.
Pets will go to the Landstown Elementary shelter that opens at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
To arrange transportation to the shelters in Virginia Beach, please call 311.