Charlotte homeless concerned over potential flooding, lack of shelter space

Activists gather supplies for homeless community

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As the Charlotte area inches closer to Hurricane Florence’s impact on the area, officials have not said what, if anything, will be done to help Charlotte’s homeless.

“Even if it just rains, it’s our duty as neighbors to take care of each other,” Stacy Phillips says.

Phillips works with Charlotte’s homeless community. She says they are asking her what they will do when the impending storm comes their way.

“And I’m like shoot. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ll figure it out,” she says.

Now, Phillips is tweeting, asking friends for things like canned goods, ponchos and tarps. She is anticipating shelter beds filling and the possibility the county will not open extras.

“My focus is the worst-case scenario,” she says. “If we can’t get everyone in the shelters, that we at least have tarps to cover their tents.”

Monday and Tuesday, WBTV asked the county if there would be extra shelters opening. They forwarded us to emergency management, who forwarded us to Charlotte Fire, who referred us to a press conference that will happen Wednesday morning.

Paul Lessard, who is homeless in uptown, is hopeful.

“There’s a guy out here with a five-year-old son, he can’t get into the shelter,” Lessard says. “I worry about the woman with her two kids out here I’ve seen.”

He says many people were not around to experience Hurricane Hugo and likely will not leave uptown for higher ground.

“A lot of these people don’t. They’ve never had the ‘I’ve lived in the woods’ experience,” Lessard says.

Phillips also says several groups who deliver meals to the homeless are canceling for the week.

“They don’t want to give their word and then not be able to show up,” she says.

And, she is concerned over routine flooding on Tryon Street near several homeless camps.

“That water goes somewhere and it typically goes downhill to the camps,” she says.

Phillips and others are collecting those supplies at Mission Gathering Church in NODA and Old Store Produce on Brown Mill Road in Huntersville.

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