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Choctaw Gym Serves as Shelter in FWB

With some parts of the county receiving close to 13 inches of rain, several shelters were opened in the area, one in Crestview and another at Choctawhatchee High School in Ft. Walton Beach.

The American Red Cross was on hand at the Choctaw gymnasium to provide care for the six Fort Walton Beach families displaced by the storm. Cots and blankets were set up, a food and drink table was nearby, and there was even a basketball available for shooting hoops.

Dennis Somers, a neighborhood resident staying at the shelter said he discovered his apartment was flooded in the middle of the night and it was a shock to wake up and have so much water around him,  "At two o’clock in the morning I woke up to go to the bathroom and we had three inches of water in our room. It was very exciting to stick your feet in three inches of water in your bedroom."

Somers said his family arrived at the shelter with just the clothes on their backs and are looking forward to returning home soon to gage the damage, "We’re going to asses our losses and go from there. A foot of water was in my apartment so our furniture’s ruined; quite a lot of things are ruined."

The American Red Cross providing disaster relief at the shelter is part of a four county chapter that includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties. Mike MacCarroll, a Red Cross volunteer said it’s their duty to be there in times of tragedy, "Middle of the night people had flooding, and we have a basic mission to help people in those kinds of disasters. Make sure they’re safe, warm, and fed."

MacCarroll, a FWB resident himself said he’s just trying to be a resource for the community and do his part to help out for as long as needed, where ever he’s needed, "I know there’s a lot going on and particularly over there in Escambia so we’re just doing our little piece of this puzzle, I don’t even know how big the puzzle is right now."

County officials say the shelter at Choctaw High School will remain open as long as there is a need. More information about shelters available in your area can be found at Red Cross. org. Danielle Freeman WUWF News.