AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Evacuees who were bused in to Augusta shelters to escape Hurricane Matthew all left by mid-afternoon Monday.
The Red Cross has housed and fed around 6,000 people in Georgia. Of those, about 4,000 were settled in shelters in Augusta.
“Even the residents of Augusta have been so hospitality,” said evacuee Mary Barrett. “We are so happy and so blessed.”
After sleeping on cots in local churches and schools for several nights, those thousands were all able to return to the coast by dinnertime on Monday.
“They’re anxious to go home and see what the status of their home is,” said Jana Hill, the public affairs director for the Red Cross of Augusta.
For those who return to find their homes unlivable, shelters provided by the Red Cross will be open in Savannah.
“My understanding that I have got flooded,” Barrett said. “I don’t know how bad my property is, but glory be to God, we’re just going to take it as it comes.”
Evacuees started heading back to Savannah on Sunday, so to get all 4,000 people out within 24 hours exceeded officials’ initial expectations. Now, the concern is getting leftover donations back to Savannah and working on getting schools that had been serving as shelters ready for students by Wednesday.
“We’ve had city employees, fire department employees go in and pick up the cots and other things. We had recreation employees go in and help you know get the trash up and other things,” said Chief Chris James of the Augusta Fire Department. “We had the Georgia defense force, who’s also here helping us get those facilities back in shape.”
The Red Cross still needs monetary donations to continue to support the relief efforts. You can donate here.