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

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.

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.

  • Gary F

    A friend of mine who lives in Fort Walton says EVERY hotel/motel, shelter, hospital and nursing home is full for HUNDREDS of miles. And they will be full for a long time.

  • AL287

    I can definitely identify with the homeless after Hurricane Michael.

    My brother and his wife lived on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi when Katrina hit. They sheltered at their usual hotel as they had since moving to the coast. They watched as the 20 ft. storm surge went over the roof of their house which was a little less than 2 miles from the beachfront.

    There was the same lack of cell and landline communication and after a week of not knowing, their oldest daughter became desperate to find out the fate of her parents and set out from Baton Rouge to find them despite the warnings from state and federal officials.

    Just as she was about to leave, a volunteer with a satellite phone allowed every one of the evacuees at the hotel to call their families and let them know they were safe.

    A WalMart parking lot is certainly no place for parents with a newborn.

    God bless the security guard a thousand times over for finding the young couple shelter.

    That alone is a miracle in itself when you consider the catastrophic damage from Michael.