About 60 people had signed into the Hawaii Red Cross emergency shelter at the Baldwin High Gym as of 6 p.m. Thursday, volunteers said.
The facility is equipped to take up to 1,200 people, though it was unknown whether or not more people would arrive as Hurricane Iselle was expected to hit Maui County later Thursday night, said American Red Cross volunteer Gary Wiseman.
"Just be sure to bring your own water, food, bedding (because) we have nothing here but standing room," Wiseman said, adding that the shelter does have a first-aid kit and medical personnel on call.
The shelter opened to the public Thursday at 1 p.m. and is one of five emergency shelters on Maui.
At 5 p.m., county spokesman Rod Antone reported a sprinkling of people at the shelters. There were 17 people at the Lahaina Civic Center, 11 at Lokelani Intermediate School in Kihei, four at King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani and three at Hana High & Elementary.
Wiseman said, so far, most of the residents who've come to the shelter are families and some homeless people.
SHELTERS IN MAUI COUNTY
Hawaii Red Cross volunteers have opened shelters in Maui County. People are asked to listen to the radio or see local news reports for updates. The Maui County shelters are located at:
Baldwin High School, Wailuku
Lokelani Intermediate School (pet friendly), Kihei
King Kekaulike High School, Pukalani
Hana High & Elementary School
Molokai High School
Kilohana Elementary, Molokai
Lahaina Civic Center
Lanai High & Elementary School
"Thank God for the Red Cross," said Jeffrey Rumsey, who usually camps out at Kanaha Beach Park. "Not only are they helping the houseless, but the community, with shelter."
Rumsey chastised county officials for shooing away campers at Kanaha Beach Park near the Kahului Airport on Wednesday night, a day before the storm was slated to hit Maui. He said he and several others ended up having to sleep in their vehicles, since no shelters had yet been opened.
"A lot of us are without housing, there was no place for us to go," Rumsey said.
Steve Springer, who usually camps out in Wailuku, said the emergency shelter was "nice."
"I was actually worried it'd be jam-packed with lots of screaming, but it's actually a real nice setup. I'm really glad it's here. With the storms coming, I would not be able to ride it out (in a tent)," Springer said.
Springer, who was midway through inflating an air bed Thursday night, said he knew to bring his own food and water before arriving at the shelter.
A young couple from Argentina was camping out of in an RV they had rented off the Airbnb website when they got news of the incoming storms. They said they found out about the Baldwin High shelter online.
"We don't know what to expect, so we are here, just trying to be safe," said Adela Ordoqui, who added there are rarely any hurricanes in Argentina.
Her husband, Nicolas Tiburzi, said that they had arrived on Maui on Tuesday and were scheduled to fly to Hawaii Island this coming Tuesday, though their travel plans may change now because of the storms.
"Still, we're in Hawaii, and it will be a good story," Tiburzi said.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at email@example.com.