HIGHLANDS, CO. FL - 64-year-old Michelle Leonard was at the Highlands County special needs shelter right at opening time. She's physically disabled and is exactly the type of person this last-option shelter serves.
"Some days are good days. Some days are bad days but I couldn't board up a window," she said.
Employees will get her basic medical assistance and monitoring, for free. Leonard is no stranger to hurricanes yet this is the first time she's used this service. The reason is heartbreaking.
"I'm very experienced with all of this. What I don't have is my husband who kept it all safe and together," she explained.
Leonard is one of at least 42 people who will fill up the beds. She says, if she hadn't left her home today, she would have been trapped inside.
"I know that I'll be able to rest easily tonight," she said.
She's got a message for those unsure of whether to head to a shelter.
"You may not want to stand in line to get your food with strangers but what is your alternative?" she said, "Well, death. I think I'll stand in line for the toilet."
Health department leaders say don't wait until it's an emergency. If you feel like you need this service, head to the Bert J. Harris Agriculture Center at 4509 George Blvd. Sebring, FL 33875. You can be evaluated on the spot.