The Super 8 in Staunton is one of the only area motels with vacancies, says the receptionist at the front desk. She says most others in town are booked to capacity with local residents who had no power at home.
A few miles away, not one cot is occupied at the Red Cross Emergency Shelter. The doors at Bessie Weller Elementary on Greenville Avenue are open for anyone seeking a warm place for their family to stay. But only volunteers are calling it "home," and that concerns Fire Chief Mike Myers.
"I'm just concerned that people in the community are still in the dark and in cold houses, especially ones with small children or the elderly which have a large population in Staunton," says Myers.
He says people choosing to stay at home should be extremely careful with makeshift heating and lighting. Myers says the fire department has already responded to 60 storm-related fires involving fallen power lines and misused fireplaces.
Myers has also gone door to door urging those without electricity to visit the disaster shelter. Social Services is stressing the school may be the safest place to be. The shelter has power, is warm and food, blankets and medical attention are all readily available.
Social worker Barbara Richardson says, "We don't want people to be taking chances with candles and fires in fireplaces that might not be safe. That's another reason the city wanted to have the shelter available."
The Staunton shelter at Bessie Weller Elementary is located precisely at 600 Greenville Avenue. It's open until 9 p.m. Thursday when full power is expected to be restored to the entire area. The Red Cross urges you to bring your own pillows, blankets, medications and diet needs. Battery powered devices such as radios and TVs are welcome, but pets are not. For more information call 332-3842 and if you need transportation to the shelter you can call CATS at 248-2499.