By Georgia Duncan, American Red Cross

At the American Red Cross shelter, a steady stream of interesting people from all walks of life have been coming and going since Hurricane Harvey left so many people looking for a place to stay.

Lillian Irene Thomas recalls her ordeal of being chest deep in floodwater in her Houston home after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston. She was rescued by the Coast Guard and taken to a Red Cross shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

Some smile and walk past the check-in table at the shelter entrance. Others, like Lillian Irene Thomas, stop to chat and share their story.

For Lillian, the events that led her to arrive at the shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston with little more than the wet clothes on her back began with the rain.

Lillian never dreamed the experience that was in her future. The waters rose quickly, her home flooded and Lillian found herself in chest deep water. So quickly did the water rise that Lillian was unable to leave her home.

After a day of waiting, the Coast Guard came to the rescue and Lillian and her neighbors were helped into a large open bed truck and driven to a nearby school on higher ground where it was in a safer area.

Lillian and her neighbors spent a long cold wet night in the school which wasn’t a shelter but still a safe place out of the pouring rain.

“I was wet and cold and shivering, but very grateful to God for getting me out of there,” she said.

Next day, Lillian and everyone else at the school were brought to the convention center where they were greeted by Red Cross volunteers. Lillian was given a warm blanket, registered into the shelter and showed to her sleeping area. Another volunteer showed Lillian where to find dry clothes and shoes.

During her stay, she received medical attention and made friends with other shelter residents who were glad to help each other, like when Lillian was trying to take a bundle of new clothes and another resident helped her carry them to her cot.

Lillian said she was grateful for being rescued and grateful for the care she has received at the shelter.

“The Red Cross volunteers, police and everyone has been superb,” she said. “I couldn’t be more satisfied with my shelter experience.”