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Berrien Springs Middle School shelters dozens during flood evacuations

Dozens of families displaced by the flooding in Berrien County are seeking shelter with family, friends or in shelters like the one now set up at Berrien Springs Middle School.

“A lot of our families live in the surrounding areas and they were very much affected,” said Iris Vergara, Spanish/English teacher, translator.

The school, a designated shelter in Berrien Springs, and classes still in session Friday, opened its doors to those affected during a mandatory evacuation that pushed families out of their homes Thursday.

“Got a knock on the door on Wednesday morning and we were told that we had ten minutes to get out,” said Tammy Stattler, resident of Berrien County “

Tammy Stattler was one of the hundreds affected and of the 60 or so who chose to come to the middle school with what little she could grab on her way out.

“A set of pajamas and my meds. They’re doing what they can do and we got our cots lined out and everything so we get our meals and stuff,” said Stattler.

“Our gym is wall to wall with cots and tables,” said Vergara.

Students are being kept separate from families staying in the gym, but teachers and staff, they’re helping on both ends of the school.

“Our kids are great and our administrators had a plan. They knew how they were going to keep both area separated. We don’t notice a lot of disruptions so the plan is good and it’s working,” said Vergara.

While I was filming, Berrien County officials declared a local state of emergency to seek more resources from the state. Meanwhile at the middle school…

“We have church groups that have come to play with the kids and donated clothes. Families have dropped by with toys. Everyone is coming together to make this work,” said Martha Lohrsterfer with the American Red Cross.

But families are being told to stay out of their homes until further notice.

“It’s kind of scary. Emotionally I’ve never been through anything like this tragedy… so I’m just trying to stay strong and do the best I can,” said Stattler.

As far as more supplies, American Red Cross says they are in need of new socks and new underwear at the middle school. If you are able to make a financial donation through the Salvation Army or American Red Cross, that will help also. As for other donations, officials are asking that you hold onto them.

“We ask the community to remember that this is going to be a long-term crisis for many families who do not have insurance and who will need their support in the weeks and months to come. Save up your resources for those times because you have already abundantly helped out at this point so the future is what I am focused on now,” said Martha Lohrsterfer with American Red Cross.

Officials say there is still room for more at the shelter if you need help.

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