Shelter for Irma evacuees opens near I-95 in Johnston County

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) -- The local Red Cross is offering a place to say for evacuees forced from their homes by Hurricane Irma.

Late into the evening Saturday, people were making their way up Interstate 95 and evacuating their homes in Florida as Hurricane Irma took aim at the state.

RELATED: Click here for full coverage in Hurricane Central

"All the hotels were booked, so we stopped in Tallahassee and decided to go to Virginia Beach," said Lynna Mislang

"Everyone started evacuating, so we decided when we get on the road," said Melissa Miles.

Miles and her two daughters have a long journey ahead of them. They're driving more than 1,000 miles from Daytona Beach to New York.

Miles says the plan is to drive straight through the night, but that could change.

"I'll make the executive decision to pull over and go to a hotel," she said.

However stopping at a hotel is not the only option for people like Miles, who is evacuating her home due to Irma.

"For tonight we have the ability to shelter 250," said Alex Alexis.

Alexis is a shelter manager for the Red Cross. He and about a dozen other volunteers were waiting for evacuees to take refuge in their shelter in Smithfield.

Signs along I-95 directed evacuees to the location just a few miles off of the interstate.

The shelter is a joint operation with the state, Johnston County, and the Red Cross. Alexis says this shelter will offer not just a comfortable place to sleep, but offers food as well.

"This is a sad moment for someone to leave their home behind, and you don't know if their home will exist or not,  but in the same token it's a comfort and blessing knowing they have a place to rest," said Alexis

The shelter in Smithfield is just one of four throughout the entire state.

Gaston County, Henderson County, and Mecklenburg County also opened shelters Saturday night for evacuees. All shelters are capable to accommodate pets.

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