Local flood shelter sees sudden surge of evacuees - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Local flood shelter sees sudden surge of evacuees

(WMC-TV) - A surge of flood evacuees turned up at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church shelter overnight, many of them driven from their communities by river snakes.

According Dr. Frank Thomas, a senior pastor at the church, the shelter's population jumped from 288 evacuees to 467 in just 24 hours.

"Six people arrived here at three o'clock in the morning," he said.

Between Monday and Tuesday, 179 new flood evacuees fled their homes to stay in Mid-South shelters.

"All of a sudden, the power was going out in several places.  If you don't have power, you have to come out," Thomas said.

Power outages weren't the only reason people turned to shelters.

"Snakes in the water...when you start seeing snakes running around, a shelter might be a safer place," Thomas said.

People also held out until the river crested. Tuesday, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said local churches are a rock in the community.

"The sheltering has been handled exclusively by our faith community," he said. "I know some of the more extensive sheltering operations, they've spent a quarter of a million dollars or better."

Businesses have also stepped up to fill the need.

However, according to Thomas, it's not about money.

"That's not the issue. The issue is that people need help.  We believe that when we help people, we bless people and we get blessed," he said.

And, there's a bigger picture.

"Do any of us ever know if we'll be in a soup line? We could be in a shelter and I would want somebody to extend generosity to me," Thomas said. "We extend generosity to people because it could happen to any of us."

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