Evacuees reflect on their time in Mississippi as they prepare to head back home

CLARKE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Lauderdale and Clarke counties and neighboring communities continue to set the standard when it comes to helping people in times of need.

Archusa Water Park near Quitman has been the home of dozens of hurricane evacuees for the past five days.

“But this is our first Hurricane that we were scared. We were going to stay until Irma started to come through Central Florida, and then we said we’re going. You know from the kids we’re getting out of here,” Deborah Caron said.

“We’ve stayed for every one of them except this. I’ve been there almost 60 years. She’s been there all her life. First time we’ve ever left. Never considered leaving until this one,” Deborah Franz and Violet Dillinger said.

Many will hope to return to Florida by Wednesday.

We talked with several families who are staying at Archusa, many tell us they're overwhelmed with the generosity and outpouring of support from local communities.

“One day we had the school come from Clarke County. All the teachers and the school nurse came with toys and played games with them and played kickball. They played a lot of games with them. So it gave them a few hours to not think about anything,” Caron said.

"I just hope and pray to God that Florida, Florida needs to see this. Our state needs to see this. Because I’ve never seen it in Florida, I’ve never seen it anywhere. They are absolutely wonderful here. Seriously," Franz and Dillinger said.

Evacuees here say they will carry this experience for years to come as they set their sights back to the Sunshine State.

“I’ll tell you, it’s changed me in the way that I think about a lot of things now. Kind of renews your faith. Because this world is so mean now, but they have renewed my faith in everything,” Franz and Dillinger said.

If you would like to donate supplies you can take them to the Clarke County Emergency Management Office located at 642 South Archusa Avenue in Quitman, which is the old National Guard Armory Building.