Mary Thomas had just begun eating breakfast when a flurry of guests entered Wesley Hall at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.
Unaffected by a group of cameramen, Thomas abandoned her chicken biscuit and went to greet Sandra Deal, the wife of Georgia’s governor.
“Thank you so much for checking on us,” Thomas told Deal. “It means so much to know you care.”
Deal spent around an hour in Augusta on Sunday morning, checking on evacuees from Hurricane Matthew.
While at Trinity on the Hill, she toured the site, comforted families and even took part in a Sunday school class with children.
After leaving Richmond County, Deal made her way to Macon to view other Red Cross shelter sites.
“I’m so glad y’all are here,” Deal told a table of young adults in Wesley Hall. “Please don’t rush home – please stay as long as you need. The most important thing right now is your safety.”
In all, 267 evacuees spent at least one night at Trinity on the Hill. As of Sunday morning, about 100 of the people had already gone home.
According to Jana Hill, of the American Red Cross, what stood out the most was how the shelter evolved into a community.
“It’s truly incredible how everyone wants to chip in,” Hill said. “How everyone wants to come together to make this a home away from home.”
Hill gave an example of a custodian evacuee from Savannah who volunteered to mop the bathroom floors.
“We have people helping in the kitchen, and others wanting to vacuum the floors,” Hill said. “To see everyone unite through this difficult time is something I’ll never forget.”
Sherry Nicholson, of the American Red Cross, said 33 shelters were open Sunday morning throughout the state of Georgia. Around 4,500 evacuees were stationed at those Red Cross sites.
At Trinity on the Hill, guests were served donuts and biscuits Sunday morning, while many chose to attend church service.
“It amazes me how everyone here wants to work,” Nicholson said of the Trinity evacuees. “We’ve become a family – we really have.”
Before leaving, Deal donated a stack of children’s books to Wesley Hall. She also posed for photographs, while encouraging evacuees to remain patient.
“Remember that God’s in control,” Deal said. “Sometimes, unfortunate or difficult things happen, but always remember that God’s in control.”