New Shelter For Frayser Families Affected By Disasters

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(Memphis) There are about 35 emergency shelters for families hurt by disasters across Memphis.

Until now, there weren’t any in the Frayser area.

“If your house burns down, that’s the lowest part of your life,” said Becky Williams with the American Red Cross.

She says the American Red Cross helps more than 700 Memphis families a year, burned out of their homes.

A good chunk of those families are in Frayser.

For years, when a fire swept through an apartment complex, dozens of families would be housed in a shelter and since there weren’t any in Frayser, those families were put up somewhere across town.

“It disrupts the families even more. Children can’t go to school, families aren’t close to home or work,” said Williams.

Now that’s changed, the constant hum and dimmed lighting inside the Union Grove Baptist Church gymnasium will serve as a shelter for families forced out of their homes.

Right now, Union Grove is the only church signed up to be an official shelter, but another church will sign on this Friday.

Pastor Walter Smith says he’s happy to help provide a safe place for families who have lost everything, “When you talk about emergencies, that’s when the community really needs to come together and help repair what’s broken."

The Partnership between Frayser churches and the American Red Cross is part of a larger project of the Assisi Foundation to help get everyone in Shelby County prepared for disasters.

“It doesn’t care is you are rich or poor, fire effects everyone,” said Earnestine Berry Smith, with the Assisi Foundation.

She stresses families put together survival kits to grab in the event you are forced out the door.