Shelter brings neighbors closer together

LISBON – Despite living a street apart, Rosalie Shannon and Glenda Metts never knew each other, but that all changed Wednesday night.

“We were all strangers before 5 p.m. last night,” Shannon said. “Now, we’re all very close.”

Shannon and Metts, along with Shannon’s neighbor Michael Schneller and his fiance, Jennifer, took shelter Wednesday evening at the First United Methodist Church on East Washington Street after severe storms ripped through Columbiana County, and a microburst in Lisbon knocked down trees and lines.

One tree that uprooted between West Lincoln Way and West Washington Street forced a gas line to break, and several residents in that area had to evacuate. Shannon and Metts weren’t sure where to go or what to do.

“We didn’t have anywhere to go,” Shannon said. “We had nothing. We didn’t know anybody.”

Shannon invited her neighbors in her car to seek shelter after being evacuated from their apartments on West Lincoln Way. She later spotted Metts, also displaced from her West Washington Street home.

“I didn’t think twice about it,” Shannon said. “I saw her at the corner, and I said, ‘If you want to go with us, you can go with us. We’re looking for a shelter somewhere’.”

The experience was difficult as they dealt with several road closures as Lisbon police, county sheriff deputies and the State Highway Patrol directed traffic.

“We were driving throughout town and saw this road closed, and that road closed,” Metts said. “We would drive down Market Street, and you’d see some limbs down, and then also on Jefferson Street, and we had to go down an alley, and there were trees everywhere. We’d then see a sheriff’s car, police car or fire engine.”

Schneller, who has also experienced Hurricane Rita, and his fiance both acknowledged the scary moments during the storm.

“We felt the whole house shake,” Jennifer said. “Next thing we knew, the flower pots shook, the shingles fell, it was bad.”

“It looked like snow because there was so much water,” Schneller said. “I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to think.”

After a three-hour search for an open shelter, representatives at the First United Methodist Church welcomed the four along with the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the four received cots, blankets, food and drinks.

“They have treated us with total respect,” Shannon said. “I cannot say how much they’ve done for us emotionally. I have never been in a displacement, but this church and Red Cross, I can’t speak nothing but great things.”

The four received great news Thursday after learning the gas line was fixed, but the excitement was short lived as they learned that extensive work on the electric line would keep all four away from home for a second night. They should know by 8 a.m. today if they get to return home.

“They’re checking the lines because they don’t know which ones are hot, which ones are dead,” Metts said. “There were lines down throughout South Lincoln Avenue, and there were other wires and piping came down,”

“This morning we were just so distraught,” Shannon said. “We thought we were going home around 1 p.m. today, then they came in around 10 a.m. and said, ‘Sorry’.”

As they look to return home, the four look back, and remember how the storm brought them together.

“They tell us the next time a storm comes you’ll know how to react,” Schneller said. “Next time it’ll be easier.”

“We were all four strangers, and now we’re talking and close,” Shannon said.