Hurricane Irma swept through Manatee County late Sunday and into early Monday, knocking out power to more than half of the county’s residents. As of Friday, Florida Power & Light was estimating that 17 percent of the county remained without power.
For those residents, it’s been a miserable few days of existence as summer temperatures poured salt into Irma’s wounds.
“Our first couple just came here to cool down for a while,” said American Red Cross volunteer John Molineaux. “Their house was 105 degrees.”
Recognizing that people are still in need of shelter to get out of the heat and for those whose lives depend on electricity, the American Red Cross opened a shelter at St. George Episcopal Church, 912 63rd Ave. W.
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The shelter’s next guest was an elderly woman who survives with an oxygen concentrator and needed both oxygen and electricity.
“That’s the major reason we needed to open,” Molineaux said. “Let’s face it, just about everyone needs electricity to survive in this climate and some depend on it to keep them alive. If people are still suffering, we don’t care what the need is, but it tends to be just the heat.”
The shelter opened Thursday afternoon and there were about four guests by Friday afternoon, but more were coming.
“We just got a warning that more are coming who need electricity to survive,” Molineaux said. “We have room for about 30 people. We have cots, blankets, A/C, electricity, water and the Salvation Army is feeding everyone three meals a day.
“But it’s not the Hilton, so if anyone needs to bring something special or a piece of equipment they need, they need to bring it with them.”
Molineaux said the shelter will remain open until there is no longer a need.