Tallahassee church opens doors for Ian evacuees

Tallahassee church opens doors for Ian evacuees
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 4:41 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:09 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee Wednesday opened their doors welcoming in a family from the Palmetto area fleeing Hurricane Ian.

The Category 4 hurricane making landfall on the southwestern coast of Florida earlier Wednesday, but hundreds of miles away Ashely Juarez and her family have found shelter in the morning in downtown Tallahassee.

“We got all of our documents, we got barely any clothes, grabbed what’s necessary and we just left,” Juarez said.

The family of ten, which includes a baby, were able to shower and had a warm meal at the church, which is following the Florida Baptist Convention disaster relief plan.

“We immediately starting looking into if we could find some shelters,” said Associate Pastor of Missions and Pastoral Care, Terry Delany. “They’re freshening up from a 36 hour road trip to get up here and we’re letting them land until they find a place to stay tonight.”

Through the church, Delany said they were able to set up the family with a room tonight and tomorrow at a hotel in Thomasville.

Jaurez said they had originally gone to Tallahassee City Hall asking for any churches or shelters that were open.

“It’s very difficult, especially because we still have people that we know that are family that’s still there,” Juarez said. “It’s been very difficult being around here and not knowing what’s going on with them.”

The family spent Tuesday night at a rest area in Tallahassee and through the Red Cross were also offered shelter at the Taylor County Elementary School in Perry, as well as a hotel in Quincy.

Juarez said with Ian making landfall no one is able to evacuate the area if they are not already out. She said they left behind her father, uncles and aunts.

“They’re just stuck in the house since the winds are really bad over there,” Juarez said. “They moved to a secure place to stay and if it gets bad they plan to move to a two story apartment and stay with some people there.”

Juarez said they plan to stay in Tallahassee to remain relatively close to family as they wait out Hurricane Ian for a safe time to return home.

Delany said the church is not set up as a shelter at this time and they were not prepared for evacuees but said they were “ready to serve when Christ called upon (them).”

“We’re all called to serve and you never know what a day holds, but the lord does,” Delany said.

The church has served as a cold night shelter in the past in coordination with other ministries.