Shelter Together

Auston Gonzalez, Staff Writer

In the midst of destruction and devastation, Assistant Principal Catherine Halbuer found order in a hurricane shelter. According to the Washington Post, Hurricane Irma caused as many as 16 million people to lose power by Sept. 11. More than six million people evacuated and thousands more crammed into shelters throughout the state. Halbuer was assigned to Quest Elementary School, a special needs shelter. Although there was considerable damage, Halbuer said the response to the storm proved to be inspirational.

“It was a very humbling and rewarding experience,” Halbuer said. “I was really moved by the comprehensive planning that took place to address the people that evacuated for special needs. It was really impressive to see the setup.”

Halbuer had several jobs to maintain organization of the shelter.

“Part of my role was to assist the workers that were working with the patients. We
also had to take counts every two hours of people that were there for the county, there for the health department, people on electric, people on dialysis, people taking insulin, and any family members that people had at the shelter.”

Assistant Principal Glenn Webb was assigned to Meadowlane Intermediate Elementary School during this time.

“My job for a er the storm was to make sure as we got con rmation of di erent levels of safety, if people wanted to leave then we would facilitate that,” Webb said. “We did have people that were leaving the shelter and didn’t know what they were going home to. We needed to help them understand if they got home and their house was ooded or if they had no electricity, they could come back. We would facilitate moving people to other shelters a er ours closed.”

Webb, however, said he has different experience with storm shelters.

“I worked at shelters for the storms in 2004,” Webb said. “I was there for nine days throughout that time. It’s a whole different ballgame when you’re there during the storm because you have to keep people busy, create games for them, organize food times, and make sure people are comfortable. It’s a very different atmosphere than closing the shelters.”