POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - The shelter in the old Randolph County Nursing Home has served flood victims for over a month, but now the American Red Cross has announced they will close the shelter Wednesday, June 7.
According to Flo Hencken, a casework manager and volunteer with the Red Cross, they have offered their services for 30-plus days.
"This shelter has the distinction of being the longest open shelter in Arkansas history," said Hencken.
Now the Red Cross is working harder to get the shelter's residents back to their normal lives.
"The reason why we have been open this long is that many are worried about changing up their daily routines," said Hencken. "The major problem is that nobody wants to leave Pocahontas and they may need to leave Pocahontas. There just may be no other option."
Pocahontas Mayor Kary Story said the Red Cross has done a great job with tending to their residents, but people need to understand that their services were never meant to be long-term.
"This is a temporary situation," said Story. "It is not an ideal situation, but again the flood is not an ideal situation either so we have to be realistic with what we are facing."
Some residents understand the time to go.
"I hate to leave this place because I love it," said Margaret Lamborn, a resident, and volunteer. "But, we need to get on our feet to get out of here and enjoy our life again."
Hencken said they have several case workers at the shelter tending to every resident's individual situation.
"We have our people asking questions and giving them options," said Hencken. "We are finding out the roadblocks they have and how to keep them moving on and then we will solve those problems one at a time."
In any case, Hencken said they will never throw anyone out on the street.
"We are here to make sure they are taking that next step to recovery," said Hencken. "We have had residents who have been searching for a new home this entire time. Even after the deadline, we will help people find hotels or do what they need to do to start their lives again."
Lamborn said being a resident, it will be hard to leave the relationships she has built, but she understands the need to take the next step to a new life is important. "I love people to death, but I just can hardly wait to go home myself," said Lamborn.
In addition to case work, the Ministerial Alliance is also accepting applications for financial assistance with construction materials and other home items for those residents.
Applications are available Tuesday, June 6 through Friday, June 9 at the Salvation Army office from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
All applications are to be turned in at the office by 3 p.m. on June 9.
Hencken added if there is anyone in need of guidance on what to do after the shelter closes, to contact your local American Red Cross and ask for a caseworker.
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