The Home of the Hurricanes has become the new temporary home of hurricane evacuees.
On a typical Monday, Hinson Middle School is the "Home of the Hurricanes." But this Labor Day, its school mascot took on a different meaning.
More than 150 people sought shelter at the school for Hurricane Dorian on Monday, Sept. 2. The pet-friendly shelter was in good spirits around noon, just a couple of hours after it opened. People lined up to get lunch, and others finished setting up lounge chairs and air mattresses on the cafeteria floor.
“We’re not going to turn anyone away," said Hinson Middle Principal and shelter manager Bill Dunnigan.
The shelter reached capacity shortly around 1:55 p.m., according to a tweet by Volusia County Emergency Management.
Ormond Beach resident Karen Sheiman is no stranger to Hinson Middle School. She sought shelter at the school during Hurricane Irma. She left her husband in their home, but decided to go to a shelter because of her trouble with short breath.
“So when there’s no air, and it’s so hot out there, that’s the reason why I’m here," Sheiman said.
She took notice of the hurricane mural inside the cafeteria, and had her picture taken in front of it, which she sent to her son in San Francisco.
“What a coincidence," said Sheiman of the mural. "I’m here because of a hurricane.”
Of those sheltered at Hinson Middle School, 33 are students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Five students are part of the school's shelter captain program, and are helping to keep things running smoothly.
Shelter Captain Shya Lopez said this will create a good image for the school, as students stepped forward to voluntarily help other students who had nowhere else to go to evacuate safely.
“I think that will show other students that they can also make a difference," Lopez said.
Winston Maddox and his 5-year-old, Aniah, are familiar with Hinson as well. Maddox, who was set up beside Sheiman, said he remembered seeing her two years ago during Irma. His daughter had been celebrating her third birthday.
The Holly Hill resident said his daughter would be scared once the power went off, so Maddox once again chose to seek shelter at Hinson, which he said was a nice, clean environment. He said he felt safe at Hinson, and that those running the shelter take care of everyone.
“Hurricanes kill," Maddox said. "You just gotta be safe.”
He wasn't the only one to say he felt safe at Hinson. Ormond Beach resident Melissa Matthews said Dorian sounded scary on TV, and that because she lives alone in a third-floor apartment, she didn't see herself riding this one out on her own.
“I heard of this and I thought, ‘That sounds good,’" Matthews said. "Felt a lot safer.”
Daytona Beach resident Marlene Atland said she has been in Florida for five years, and that Hinson was the best shelter she's stayed in. Atland lives close to the Halifax Marina and is afraid of flooding. For past storms, she's sought shelter in the Volusia County fairgrounds.
“This is so far superior as feeling safe and being well-organized," Atland said. "It’s much better than the other ones I’ve been to.”