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Shelters offering a place of refuge for displaced families

by Minden Press-Herald

Two shelters remain open as motorists on their way through the area and victims of flooding took refuge Wednesday night.

First Baptist Church in Minden took in 52 displaced flood victims or those stranded by major highway closures, volunteers said.

Esmeralda Eguin, of Boaz, Alabama, says she and her family were traveling from Alabama to Fort Worth to her niece’s wedding set for Friday when they came upon the flooded areas of Interstate 20. She says they didn’t know what they were going to do when they were diverted off I-20 into Minden.

“We have a broken car right now,” she said. “We were going towards I-20, and we saw the detours. We turned around to find our way to Dallas, so we were driving from one road to another, and we ended up on Highway 518 and that’s where it was so bad.”

Eguin was with a group of 10, two cars, five family members in each. Her nephew, driving the other vehicle, decided to use the GPS to find another way around but was unsuccessful. The car’s motor took on water after they ran into some deep water on 518, she says, and they limped it to Walmart to see if they could get it fixed. When that failed, they tried to check into a hotel, but they were all full.

“It was raining so hard, and the water looked like it was getting closer,” she said. “From the hotel, we were passing through here, and it (FBC Minden) looked like it was open. It was big and we said, ‘I think this is a shelter.’ We were going to sleep in the car at Walmart, because we didn’t want to drive at night. We didn’t know what to expect.”

Volunteers were on hand as soon as they were called, and church members rallied to fix meals and make sure everyone had what they needed.

“It was a big blessing,” Eguin said, adding they intended to leave Thursday afternoon to try to make their way to Fort Worth.

When FBC Minden filled to capacity, First United Methodist Church opened its doors with a capacity for 36. Jennifer Thomas, volunteer and church member, says they had about 15 come through there. Although everyone left the church after breakfast Thursday morning, Thomas says they have church members covering everything in shifts.
“We plan to stay open until we see there’s not a need,” she said, “and we have church members on standby for any needs or supplies if needed.”

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