For hurricane baby, home was a pickup in a Walmart parking lot

Lorrainda Smith, sits with her two-day-old son, Luke, and husband Wilmer Capps as she contemplates sleeping in their truck. Their home was damaged from Hurricane Michael. They were told a nearby Panama City, Fla., shelter was closed. David Goldman | AP

Some stories define us more than others. The stories we embrace as uniquely America are obvious. Less so are the ones we’d rather not consider as readily. And then there are the ones that are a little bit of both.

Today’s Associated Press dispatch on life after Hurricane Michael is one such story.

William Capps, his wife Lorraine Smith and their newborn son, Luke, live in the back of a pickup truck in a Walmart parking lot, the AP reports.

“It really upset me, man, because I’ve always been the type of person who would help anyone,” Capps said in an interview with The Associated Press, which found the family outside the store Monday night.

They had the baby during the storm. Hospitals were inundated with hurricane victims. They were discharged and had nowhere to go.

The ended up at the closed Walmart.

David Goldman | AP

Then the cops showed up shortly after the AP photographer did:

Police officers who showed up after the AP photographer realized the couple’s plight and escorted them back to Gulf Coast Regional, where workers checked out Luke but couldn’t provide a bed for the night, frustrating Capps.

Fearful of safety and sanitation problems at a shelter suggested by workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the family returned to the Walmart lot.

There, they met a security guard who helped secure them a hotel room in nearby Panama City Beach with air conditioning, water and power Tuesday night. Capps doesn’t know how long the aid will last, but he intends to repay the donation.

Pulled back from the brink after doubting the kindness of humanity on that night in the parking lot, Capps still has little money and no permanent home. But things are looking up because of the kindness of strangers.

“These people have been a godsend, because otherwise we’d be back in the parking lot tonight,” he said.