SPOKANE, Wash. -- Imagine being in the middle of a disaster trying to find shelter and being turned away. A sheriff in Florida said certain people should expect it even though Hurricane Irma is on its way.
The sheriff wrote on Facebook, “If you go to a shelter for Irma, be advised... Sex offenders and predators will not be allowed." He goes on to say those people will be taken to jail and anyone with a warrant should turn themselves in. He also said, "We cannot and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders and predators. Period."
Two Red Cross Shelters are open in Washington. KREM 2 spoke with Red Cross spokesperson Betsy Robertson who said everyone in harm’s way because of a disaster is welcome at a Red Cross shelter in the Inland Northwest. People have to fill out a form as they enter and no formal ID is required.
“It ensures that we are delivering services to the people that need it and who are immediately impacted by the disaster,” Robertson explained.
Robertson said their information would be kept private, even from law enforcement agencies. Although sex offenders are required by law to identify themselves to Red Cross authorities, they are not turned away.
“We work with local law enforcement agencies to find them a place to stay that is going to be safe for them throughout the disaster and also the rest of the population that is seeking refuge in our shelter,” Robertson said.
KREM 2 spoke to Mark Gregory from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office and he said they have a great partnership with the Red Cross and when asked to provide presence at a shelter, they work in conjunction with them and their privacy policies.