MEMPHIS, Tenn (localmemphis.com) - As a lengthy recovery process begins following Hurricane Irma's destruction in Florida, the American Red Cross' Mid-South Chapter is helping in two ways.
The organization not only opened an emergency shelter for evacuees, more volunteers are expected to assist in Florida later this week.
15 Hurricane Irma evacuees stayed Sunday into Monday at the shelter at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.
That included the first evacuee to arrive: Stephanie Stoutmire, who left the Orlando, FL area for Memphis last week.
"They said go, I've been in a hurricane before, I didn't want to be in it again, so I left," Stoutmire said.
The 60-year-old grandmother spent 20 years living on and off in Memphis.
"Basically this is the only place I knew to come, so I just hopped a bus and came," Stoutmire said.
She said the shelter offered physical and mental comfort since she has no idea how much damage Hurricane Irma inflicted on her apartment.
"One of my girlfriend's roofs blew off and one of my other girlfriends was trapped in her house, but as of today I'm not able to get in touch with anyone," Stoutmire said.
"Irma has just been a horrendous storm," Bob Wallace with The American Red Cross said.
Wallace expects six volunteers to arrive in Florida later this week, in addition to the seven volunteers already in the Sunshine State.
"Our top priority is the safety of our volunteers, so one of the things we are looking for is how quickly we can get in and keep our volunteers safe at the same time," Wallace said.