Red Cross gives people a place to stay after tornado destroys homes

PORT ORCHARD, WA - The Red Cross is working in Port Orchard offering people affected by Tuesday’s tornado a place to eat, sleep, and eventually get back on their feet.

On the 1100 block of Mitchell Avenue in Port Orchard, St. Gabriel Church has turned into a shelter for anyone in need following the tornado that hit Tuesday.

“It’s the right thing to do to be here with these folks,” said Denise Courter.

Courter is a volunteer with the Red Cross. She and a handful of volunteers are working around the clock to provide food and shelter to anyone in need.

“They’re pretty much my lifeline right now,” said Rick Raymond.

Raymond says on Tuesday he watched as the tornado tore apart his community.

“I don’t know how we got out of there a live,” he said.

Raymond says he has only lived in Port Orchard for about two months; he had no idea where he was going to go, until he heard a broadcast for the Red Cross on the radio.

Red Cross officials say they will keep their doors open 24 hours a day, until they find people a place to stay on a permanent basis.

Officials say they can fit somewhere between 50 to 75 people at their location at St. Gabriel Church.

As well as offering beds and blankets, the Red Cross is also offering meals.

This Tornado destroyed about 250 homes days before the holidays. Raymond says for some the timing of this disaster could make everything that much worse, but he says he sees things differently.

“I got my Christmas gift early, I got out of there a live,” he said.

Clothing donations can be made to St. Vincent de Paul at 2525 Bethel Road SE in Port Orchard. Monetary donations can be made on the Red Cross's website.

For anyone looking for shelter following the tornado, the Red Cross operation is located at St. Gabriel Church at 1150 SE Mitchell Avenue in Port Orchard.