Buses dropped off workers from Columbia, along the Scuppernong River and Albemarle Sound, at Red Cross emergency shelters in Rocky Mount and Wilson on Friday afternoon, ahead of Hurricane Irene.
Fifty-two workers came to the Rocky Mount shelter at Englewood Baptist Church, on one bus arranged by their employer, Captain Charlie’s Seafood, Inc. The evacuees are primarily from Mexico, working in the state on a six-month contract with the company.
The 52 workers joined 23 other evacuees who stayed in the Rocky Mount shelter Thursday night. The shelter will continue to take in people throughout the weekend, despite already being over capacity.
“We will let them in and do what we can do for them,” said Ron Ashby, the Red Cross volunteer working at the shelter. “We won’t turn anybody away ... we’ll just take it as it comes.”
None of the workers speak English; the Red Cross had to call in an interpreter, Edith Serrano, from Nash County Department of Social Services to register them and collect emergency contact and family information.
When the county called her in to assist, Serrano was expecting to encounter four or five migrant workers, not a bus load.
“When I got into that room, I was like ‘Whoa, a whole room packed with Hispanic women,’“ she said.
Registering the evacuees took about two hours, and she stayed to assist Red Cross volunteers at the shelter throughout the day to make announcements and let the workers know when meals would arrive. Serrano said she’s not sure when or how all the workers will get back down to Columbia after the storm.
Mariana Sauceda, 52, along with her niece and some co-workers, were trying to nap on one of the cots set up in the Baptist church’s gym Friday afternoon.
She picks meat from oysters at Captain Charlie’s, and was glad she was evacuated from the shore.
“For them it’s good ...