When Mathews County emergency officials decided to open their shelter at Thomas Hunter Middle School Friday evening, 12 hours earlier than first planned, they knew there was a possibility no one would show up until the storm arrived the next day. But at least they would be erring on the side of safety.
And, according to JoAnn Wilson-Harfst, director of Mathews Social Services, it was the right thing to do.
"Forty-seven residents made the decision to come in early to the shelter," she said. "Many of them only spoke Spanish and it was a bit difficult communicating with them, but despite the language barrier, they knew the school would be a safe haven from the storm."
A mother and two children were forced to come to the shelter Saturday afternoon when a large tree crashed through one end of their home in Hallieford, a reminder of the risk involved in making the decision not to evacuate.