Augusta shelter supervisor remembers deadly Hurricane Katrina, says it’s his duty to make evacuees feel welcome

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Hurricane Irma has been dubbed one the most powerful storms to form in the Atlantic Ocean.

The mass devastation brings back many heartbreaking memories of past natural disasters.

“That bothers me still today,” said Trinity on the Hill shelter supervisor Eric Long.

People fleeing Hurricane Irma’s wrath has shelter volunteers working long hours to keep things running smoothly.

Despite the tiring shifts Long says nothing compares to making evacuees feel welcome.

“We are here at a church and we are here to serve people,” he told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “That’s not an option for us that is a requirement.”

Long has seen many natural disasters.

One in particular that he’ll never forget is the destructive and deadly hurricane Katrina.

“I was standing on a street and as far down the street as you could see stuff is piled 10 feet high on the curb waiting to be picked up and in the driveway was a child’s teddy bear.” He said. “My children, at the time were about that age. It was just heart wrenching.”

The tropical cyclone was one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, thousands of families lost everything.

The image of that teddy bear still lingers in the back of Long’s mind to this day.

“This is a little child who doesn’t know what’s going on and all the stuff that they had, their blanket, their pillow, their stuffed animal. They are all gone. That bothers me still today.” Long said.

He says volunteering is priceless and it means the world to evacuees, who just walked away from their homes and everything they know.

“I can show hospitality for these folks,” Long told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “At least provide them a safe, warm environment and welcome them here.”

If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer please click here.  

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