On Thursday, many Texomans headed out to shelters. They were evacuated from their homes earlier that day.
One of the shelters Wichita Falls residents went to was at Hirschi High School. Red Cross opened the shelter on Thursday morning.
“Can you imagine being told you have a few hours to get out of your house,” Katrina Farmer, Executive Director at Red Cross said, “What are you going to take. What are you going to leave behind. What does it look like when I get back.”
During the morning hours, officials put out the cots, but they had help from residents. It was a group effort. A kid's corner was also set up and one by one people kept coming through the doors. As they entered, they had to sign in and register.
“That's just because we need to know how many people we have,” she said, “We use that to count how many meals we need to prepare.”
It has been a hard couple of days for residents. On Wednesday night they were all at home in their comfy beds, but on Thursday night they will be sleeping on cots and sharing space. While some of the residents have been through this before, after the flooding in 2007, others are new to it. So, they are very scared. However, one Texoma mother is not as worried.
“My stuff, but that can all be replaced, but there's five dogs total that we have that we had to shove off on my friend, so I'm more worried about them,” Deanne Lee said.
It took more than four hours for her family to pack up their things. Something everyone had to experience, but they are grateful for what they have.
Blankets, pillows, clothes, snacks for the kids,” Lee said, “Anything that we could think of that we might need.”
The shelter at Hirschi can hold up to 80 people. As of Thursday afternoon, there were around 50 people there. With water levels expecting to rise, officials said they would not be surprised if the shelter is full by Friday night. Plus, more people could be evacuated depending on the risk.
“When it reaches capacity, we will then funnel people over to Iowa Park,” Farmer said, “If Iowa Park then reaches capacity after about another 100 people over there, then we will open up additional shelters as needed.”
The city emergency managers and the county emergency managers will be the ones to decide where additional shelters would go. It all depends on where the need is, but officials want to make sure everyone has a place to stay.
“We know what we're doing. We know how it works and it's a disaster,” Farmer said, “Things are going to happen. It's not called a disaster for nothing.”
Volunteers with the Red Cross will be working in 12 hour shifts. While that might seem like a lot, they are happy to help in any way they can.
“Everyone of these volunteers, when you talk to them about what they do, it's about taking care of people,” she said.
There are other shelters open to residents affected by flooding. The Antioch Baptist Church located at 601 Boner Street is open. Also the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church located on 809 Harding Street.