What started as a free trip to a coin laundry Wednesday afternoon turned into a false alarm for 400 evacuees to return home to Brunswick, Ga.
The possible trip home was canceled after Emergency Medical Services officials in Glynn County said evacuees couldn’t return to Glynn County until 8 a.m. Thursday. The Columbus Civic Center has been a temporary home for evacuees since Friday when a mandatory evacuation order was issued for residents to escape Hurricane Irma.
Adelaide Kirk, executive director of the American Red Cross for West Central Georgia, said evacuees will get an early breakfast Thursday before loading eight school buses for the four to six-hour trip home. Many were anxious to leave but disappointed after the time was changed.
“They are disappointed because they thought they were going to get to go home today,” Kirk said during a news conference in front of the Civic Center. “They are disappointed but they understand that we are looking out for their best interest.”
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Most of the evacuees will return to Glynn County but some people who came in cars may also leave Columbus. “They are in their own cars. They are not with the group,” she said.
Sharon Drummond, 60, said she didn’t know if her family’s single-wide mobile home was damaged or not but she’s still ready to go home. “I miss my grand babies,” she said.
Drummond, who uses a wheelchair, was sitting in front of the building when she learned the trip to A-1 Coin Laundry on Veterans Parkway was off and they possibly were going home instead. “I can wash my clothes when I get home,” she said.
Downell Oliver, 37, was ready for the trip home too but praised the efforts from the staff . “ Columbus is nice,” the resident of Abbott Andrews Terrace said.
With no departure in the afternoon, Kirk said the staff would work on details for the laundry trip. “We are working through the details of getting some of those folks back to the laundry,” she said.
Evacuees also were treated to an ice cream social. Red Cross purchased the treat from Bruster’s Ice Cream. “We are happy to partner with Bruster’s,” she said.
When the evacuees leave on Thursday, Kirk said it will almost empty the Civic Center. Those with health issues will get a final health check to make sure they can make the trip home.
Visitors will return to Glynn County on the same bus that delivered them to Columbus. “ We are working with them to make sure the same passenger gets back on the bus,” Kirk said.