Robert and Shirley Rewis

Robert and Shirley Rewis of Old Town, Florida were among the many evacuees who enjoyed lunch provided by Cedar Valley Church of Christ on Tuesday, Sept. 12. 

Kevin Myrick

Cedar Valley Church of Christ wanted to do something to give back to those in need and who face uncertainty after fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.

And instead of getting out their pocketbooks to give money, they decided bringing something tasty to eat to the Best Western was the way to go instead.

The church is just one of many who have gotten involved in helping evacuees who fled from Hurricane Irma feel at home amid the turmoil of the stormy weather this past weekend.

"We were looking for a way to get personally involved, and writing a check doesn't do that," said church member Rita Tanner. "We found out that people were here in our own county, so we decided we could provide a hot meal for them."

Tanner said that during lunch today, she'd talked to a number of people from all over the area, ranging from Miami Beach to Jacksonville.

"They don't know what they're going back to," Tanner said.

By comparison, Tanner agreed that Polk County lucked out when it came to what could have been a devastating storm locally as well not just for residents, but the evacuees as well.

"We didn't get any of the wind to speak of," she said.

But for those who are staying at the Best Western Inn and the Quality Inn across the street in Cedartown awaiting a chance to go back home after fleeing the storm, it's only a brief sigh of relief.

Shirley and Robert Rewis left their home in Old Town, Florida last week when the evacuation order came from Gov. Rick Scott. The couple are waiting to be able to go home with the Suwanee River still in flood stage, and not expected to crest until after Thursday.

Friends back home have reported to the couple that damage wasn't as bad as expected.

"We have a tree down on our gate, and no electricity," Shirley Rewis said. "We've got a bunch of limbs in the yard, but nothing on the house."

The pair left on Friday night ahead of the weekend arrival over Florida of Hurricane Irma, and they drove "just about all night for us to get here," Robert Rewis said.

He said they were waiting to go home for now until electricity was restored, but said he wasn't going to wait all week before trying to make the drive back.

They said family around the state had been heard from as well. Their son in Jacksonville "has a river flowing through his yard," Shirley Rewis said.

"He has no power, no cell or phone service," she said.

Their daughter evacuated to North Carolina ahead of the storm, and Robert added that "one of our grandsons is in South Florida at Webber College and he rode the storm out there. The eye came just about over it, and we haven't heard from him."

Another Florida couple at the hotel planning to stay a little longer were Bernadette and Tom Polizzi of St. Augustine, Florida.

They had the good news of not having much damage, but didn't have power for the moment either.

"We arrived at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday," said Bernadette Polizzi. "We drove for 13 hours."

She said they were thankful for the people of Cedartown, and that the hospitality people had shown and their desire to help was "wonderful."

It's not just been home-cooked meals that evacuees have enjoyed as well. Local residents have been dropping off supplies since last week when both the Best Western Inn and Suites and the Quality Inn in Cedartown filled up with people fleeing the coastlines.

Everything from stacked up cases of water to toys have been donated and left for those who now head back to Florida unsure of what they will find or need has filled up the lobby.

Brandy Davies, who works at the hotel, said that people have been bringing things all through the weekend.

"We've had churches bringing food, people dropping off everything that folks who are here might need," she said. "It's been incredible to see the support that people are giving."