Hurricane Matthew: Nearly 1000 seek shelter at Forest Hill High

The storm shelter at Forest Hill High School is now only accepting people who are walking in or being dropped off at the shelter.

People with vehicles are being redirected to the next closest shelter, John I. Leonard High School at 4701 10th Ave. N. in Greenacres.

By 4:08 p.m., 958 Hurricane Matthew evacuees had chosen to shelter at Forest Hill High School. And more were trudging through squally wind and rain to take refuge there. A single nurse was managing the health care needs of those at the shelter, but others – volunteers – were pitching in to help her.

Hundreds of families are seeking safe harbor at local shelters across Palm Beach County. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

Hundreds of families have sought refuge at local shelters. (Damon Higgins/Palm Beach Post)

A British television crew filmed as people spread out on blankets amid bags of food, medicine and other emergency supplies. A 6-day old baby slept next to his mother.

One cafeteria was designed as a family area. The room was split between a row of tables, where people sat to watch ESPN and Hurricane Matthew updates, and a sleeping area where families tried to get some rest. Another set of tables, tipped on their sides, acted as a barrier.

“A shelter is not the comfort of home,” said Robert Balodano, a spokesman for the American Red Cross, which is managing the shelter. “It’s life and safety we’re focused on.”

As the British crew filmed, 61-year old Norma Jean Gloyd looked on. Unable to pay for the home she shared with her husband before his death a year ago, she had been living in a hotel in Lake Worth for the past 8 months.

Gloyd said she thought the high school would be a safer place to ride out Hurricane Matthew.

“I feel safe,” she said. “It’s a concrete building.”

Gloyd, who arrived at Forest Hill High with her daughter and her two granddaughters,  praised the law enforcement and Red Cross employees who staffed the shelter.

“This is a good place,” she said. “They’ve treated us well, given us food.”

And yet worries about the hurricane persists.

“I am afraid of the storm,” she said. “I know God is with us. I know we have to have a positive attitude and believe everything will be fine.”