40+ evacuees remain at statewide shelter in Durham

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As of Friday evening, there were 45 hurricane evacuees staying at the state shelter in the old Sears building in Durham’s Northgate Mall.

State officials with the shelter said, so far, a total of 70 evacuees from the North Carolina coast and other states had checked in to the shelter since Tuesday. Officials said that 25 evacuees left to go back home on Friday.

“Now that the storm has passed, they are going ahead and heading back to their home,” said Brian Haines, public information officer for North Carolina Emergency Management.

Haines said that the shelter will remain open as long as they have evacuees.

He said if other shelters across the state close, the Durham shelter may need to take in more evacuees from other shelters.

“As of yesterday there were 70 evacuation centers open, but right now we’re down to about 27 across the state,” Haines said. “This shelter is an overflow shelter. So, if some of the shelters a little closer to the shore were to close, and the evacuees needed a place to go, then we’ll stay open for them.”

On Friday, North Carolina first lady Kristin Cooper stopped by the shelter to see the evacuees and thank the volunteers.

“You can’t be over-prepared for a situation like this,” Cooper said.

Cooper commended the shelter for all the resources they are providing the evacuees, and especially making it pet-friendly.

“We were finding people wouldn’t evacuate if it meant leaving their pets behind, so we’ve addressed that problem,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately we’ve had more practice than we would’ve liked to of had in running the shelters.”

State officials said they are still evaluating the evacuation process on the coast.

Haines said the Durham shelter will remain open for at least the next few days.

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