First evacuees from New Orleans arrive in Memphis

Evacuees fleeing the Gulf Coast arrived at the Amtrak station in Memphis around 10:45 Saturday night. The Tennessee Air National Guard is helping to place them in local shelters.

Several thousand evacuees are expected to flee to Tennessee in the wake of Hurricane Gustav.

Evacuee Bernell Vultz says he's happy to be out of harm's way, safe and sound at Cummings Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis.

"The church is always going to get blessed by the lord, as they open their days and let everybody come in," he said.

But Vultz is worried about his property back home in Louisiana. "I just hope my house is still there when I get there."

Nearly 60 volunteers from the Cummings Church congregation spent Saturday preparing to welcome evacuees like Vultz.

Kevin Faulkner says the church expects to provide shelter for at least 120 evacuees, and that means making sure all the necessary supplies are in place.

"Blankets, bedding and sheets and stuff," said Faulkner. "We had them donated by our congregation. Food is supplied."

Memphis City Schools will provide food to the shelters.

Faulkner says his church did the same thing three years ago during Hurricane Katrina, but this time they're better prepared, ready to do everything they can to make sure their guests have a comfortable place to stay.
According to the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, almost all local hotels are full. And Tunica County hotels, motels and RV parks were already full as of Saturday afternoon.

The Red Cross is managing the shelters.

The following area shelters are now open:

Byrne High School, 1475 East Shelby Drive in Memphis
Catholic High School, 61 North McLean in Memphis
Cummings Street Baptist Church, 794 E. Raines Road in Memphis.
G.W. Henderson Receation Center, 1155 Abbey Drive, just off U.S. 61 in Tunica, Mississippi.

The Red Cross is seeking volunteers to help welcome Gulf Coast evacuees to the Mid-South. Volunteer sign-up and orientation will take place Sunday and Monday from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Volunteers can sign up in person at 1400 Central Avenue in Memphis, or call 901-726-1690.

Click here to visit The American Red Cross Mid-South Chapter.