Upstate church to open shelter Sunday, pastor says

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Relentless Church in Greenville is partnering with the American Red Cross to open a shelter Sunday for those taking refuge from Hurricane Florence, according to one of its pastors. 

“People have been calling non-stop,” said Lisa Colby, who is the executive director of the American Red Cross Upstate Chapter. “We just want to reassure them. We’ll be here to help anyone who needs it.”

The American Red Cross is deploying about 1,300 volunteers throughout the Carolinas, according to Colby. Local organizations are also stepping up to help. 

One of the pastors at Relentless Church told 7 News it is opening its doors at 8 a.m. Sunday to anyone who needs a place to stay. 

“We’re going to have blankets. We’re going to have water. We’re going to have hot meals. We’re going to have showers. We’re going to have hygiene products,” Pastor Oz Esparza of Relentless Church. He also said they will be providing a place for people to sleep.

The church is partnering with the the Red Cross to open a secondary shelter. The Red Cross will first care for coastal evacuees in the midlands, but if those shelters get too full, Upstate organizations are on standby to welcome them. 

“We are fully expecting that there might be some overflow and that some people might be evacuating all the way up to the Upstate, and we’re prepared if that should happen,” Colby said.

Pastor Oz said the church is welcoming as many people as can fit in their gym. He estimates it can hold 100 or 150 people. 

“I think it reflects the mission of our church because we have a concept of open doors…that anyone is welcome…that we love on all people, all walks of life,” Oz said.

He also said the church is being careful to comply with directives from city leaders and to keep its volunteers safe. 

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