At 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, 12 people, two cats, a puppy and a guinea pig had taken up shelter in and near a former Sears in Northgate Mall in Durham.
The shelter in the fading mall off Interstate 85 is one of many opening up across the state to provide a refuge from Hurricane Dorian.
As people walk into the Northgate storefront, they see rows and rows of more than 700 green cots topped with white blankets folded and wrapped in plastic.
It was a similar scene in Clayton when Gov. Roy Cooper stopped by C3 Church. Part of the mega church had been converted into a state medical support shelter to serve people who aren’t sick enough to be in the hospital, but whose needs can’t be met at a regular shelter.
There, the cots were black and topped with care packages that included sheets, robes, bed pans and toiletries.
“There is already one patient here,” Cooper said around 1:30 p.m .Wednesday. “We expect more evacuees to come our way and the storm gets closer.”
Teams of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others, along with donated medical equipment and supplies, came from area hospitals.
“It’s amazing how fast they can come up here and set up,” Cooper said.
The Clayton shelter, however, isn’t one that people can just drive up to, said Chuck Lewis, an assistant chief with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
People having an emergency should call 911 or report to their local emergency officials, Lewis said.
People who need to evacuate with a person who is medically fragile should reach out to their county emergency operations center, which will help them find the best place to stay, he said.
The shelter at the former Sears in Durham was opened under a partnership between the state, the American Red Cross and other agencies,
A companion animal support trailer, which can house up to 43 pets, has been set up outside. Mobile showers and bathrooms have been set up in trailers and a container in the parking lot.
Tom Hegele, a spokesperson for the shelter,said firefighters, community emergency response teams, volunteers and others helped transform the former Sears..
“Have you ever watched a circus come to town and how they go from an empty lot to a big top?” he said. “It’s about what this reminded me of.”
Things to bring to a shelter:
▪ Emergency kit.
▪ Clothing for a few days
▪ Daily medications and medical devices
▪ Chargers for phone and medical divices
▪ Items for infants and pets.
▪ North Brunswick High School, 114 Scorpion Drive, Leland — Pet friendly
▪ South Brunswick High School, 280 Cougar Road, Boiling Spring Lakes — Pet friendly
▪ West Brunswick High School, 550 Whiteville Road, Shallotte — Pet friendly
▪ East Columbus High School, 32 Gator Lane, Lake Waccamaw — Not pet friendly
▪ Edgewood Elementary, 317 E Calhoun St., Whiteville — Pet friendly
▪ Guidewood Elementary, 11570 Swamp Fox Hwy East, Tabor City — Not pet friendly
▪ South Columbus High School, 40 Stallion Drive, Tabor City — Not Pet Friendly
▪ West Columbus High School, 7294 Andrew Jackson Highway SW, Cerro Gordo —Not pet friendly
▪ Sears - Northgate Mall (SCRS), 1620 Guess Road, Durham — Pet friendly
▪ North Johnston Middle School (Opens Thursday at 1 p.m.), 435 Oil Company Road, Micro, — Pet friendly