Shelters fill fast with hurricane evacuees

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— A shelter set up at Knightdale High School for people fleeing their homes in Dare and Carteret counties ahead of Hurricane Florence was already at capacity by Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Officials could expand the shelter beyond its 450-person limit, if needed later, but they were sending evacuees to other area shelters, such as at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School or Garner High School.

Novan Freeman and DeMarcus Jones were already at the Southeast Raleigh High shelter after leaving their homes in Onslow County.

“We packed up what we could take and hope for the best that everything will still be there when we get back,” Freeman said.

“I’ve never been in a situation like this, so right now, we’re just trying to get comfortable, and hopefully we’ll be able to weather the storm,” Jones said.

The Southeast Raleigh High School shelter had already reached capacity by Wednesday night and those inside were happy to know they were safe from the storm.

“I vacated so I wouldn’t lose my life,” Wilmington resident Ann Taylor said. “The apartment manager said ,’You’re going to be safe here’ but something inside me said don’t take any chances. Just like they said the Titanic was unsinkable, look what happened.”

Eastern North Carolina counties were opening up additional shelters Wednesday as the initial ones filled.

Gov. Roy Cooper said at least 50 shelters were already open across the state, and more were coming online, including a “mega-shelter” at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, which can house at least 1,000 people.