As Hurricane Florence moves closer to making landfall, a Milford woman working for the Red Cross is stationed at a shelter about 30 miles inland from Wilmington, N.C.
Susan Shaw got involved with the Red Cross shortly after Sandy slammed into the Connecticut shoreline six years ago.
“I lost my home and began working on long-term recovery and ended up working with the Red Cross and eventually they hired me for disaster services,” she told NBC Connecticut over the phone Thursday.
Shaw arrived Wednesday at an elementary school in Burgaw, North Carolina that is being turned into an emergency shelter.
“On the drive down we saw traffic going the other way, away from this area,” Shaw said. “Stores were closing up and people were leaving but we were still able to get gas. We were still able to get some necessities for the shelter.”
There aren’t any showers or cots at the shelter, Shaw said, just the bedding families could bring with them.
“This is not the best of circumstance, this is an evacuation shelter,” she said.
Shaw is joined by Red Cross staff and volunteers from across the United States.
“The staff here at this elementary school have been here 24/7 preparing meals, hot meals, good meals,” she said.
While Florence has weakened, it remains a massive hurricane that is still expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge and torrential downpours.
“Right now what people are focused on is getting through today and seeing what happens tomorrow,” Shaw said.
From her experience following Sandy, Shaw knows it is possible to rebuild after a catastrophic storm. It just takes some time.
“It’s persistence and patience,” she said. “Communities do recover.”
The Red Cross shelter in Burgaw is already at capacity with 300 people staying there, but Shaw said they will not turn anyone away.