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Hawaii shelters offer storm cover for the few who turn up

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    The Hawaii Red Cross evacuation centers in Honolulu were not crowded with the approach of Tropical Storm Olivia. Above, William Prange, front, and his friend Craig Ell hung out outside the gymnasium at Manoa Valley District Park on Wednesday. The pair spent Tuesday night at the Manoa shelter.

William Prange pushed Craig Ell in his broken wheelchair nearly 6 miles from the Waikiki Health Center to a Hawaii Red Cross shelter at the Manoa Valley District Park as rain began pouring from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Olivia.

With nowhere else to go, the homeless men who had moved together to Hawaii from California in December came to take refuge from the weather Tuesday night.

“Thank God for him because my wheelchair decided to go out on me. It’s a very tough place to be homeless,” said Ell, 48, a former record producer who said he became homeless after his California home was robbed in 2017. “You would think people would have some sort of a heart when you’re in a wheelchair and trying to just charge your chair to get to the next spot, but they don’t. We came as soon as we could because you don’t know when the storm’s going to hit.”

The men were among the half dozen people staying at the shelter to ride out the storm. There were a total of 75 people across 15 evacuation centers on Oahu, Hawaii island and Maui County as of Wednesday morning, according to the Red Cross.

“It’s tough because to try to find information on where they’re going to have evacuation centers or shelters I should say it’s not easy to find that information on the internet. I found it through friends that are watching television,” Ell said. “The refuge here is good, you’re surrounded by people who have donated their time volunteering. We keep the faith, we keep connected with God and people and energy.”

Ray Moody, a 15-year Red Cross volunteer at the Kalihi Valley District Park, where there were only three people Tuesday night, said it was “very quiet” compared to the 190 people who stayed at a shelter he manned three weeks ago during Hurricane Lane.

“The rain has stopped, the wind has stopped blowing a bit,” he said. “I suspect we will not close this shelter as long as the wind is blowing and it’s raining. We’re not going to put people out in the rain. From past experience we take care of people as long as they need to be taken care of.”

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