Red Cross steps up to help Port Orchard tornado victims

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- On Tuesday night, St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church was one of the few churches in the area that could open its doors to people. So, the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center there for victims of the Port Orchard-area tornado.

A steady stream of volunteers showed up to St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Port Orchard to lend a helping hand. The Red Cross opened the evacuation center just a couple of hours after the tornado touched down.

“We are one of few churches in the exact area that still had power and services. They asked if they could use the facility and we agreed to,” said Parish Administrator Kurt Lawrence.

Lawrence says about two dozen people have been brought to the church so far. KellyJo Johnson says she’s been in shock since the tornado hit and is still waiting to hear when she can go back to her home.

“Our neighbor’s house was demolished and there was a gas leak. So, our street was evacuated so we can’t go back until that is fixed,” Johnson said.

Johnson is one of the fortunate people who still have a home to go back to. Richard Raymond says the home his family lived in was destroyed by falling trees but says he’s grateful the Red Cross has stepped up.

"I see people bringing in water, pizza, chicken and blankets, stuff like that. It’s nice to see people caring,” Raymond said.

“Parishioners, neighbors have brought food and drink in for people. We’re doing everything we can to support the people coming in both spiritually, mentally, and physically,” Lawrence said.

Officials with the Red Cross say they’re still deciding if this center will become a shelter for the next few days. It'll depend on the needs of the victims and how long it takes for power to be restored in the affected areas.