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10,000 S.D. Evacuees Take Shelter at Qualcomm Stadium

Qualcomm Stadium is now San Diego County's largest emergency evacuation center. People have been streaming into the stadium for the past three days. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis reports.

Qualcomm Stadium is now San Diego County's largest emergency evacuation center. People have been streaming into the stadium for the past three days. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis reports.

More than 10,000 San Diego County residents are taking shelter are Qualcomm Stadium. But despite the massive numbers, everyone is getting more than just the basics -- from whole boxes of doughnuts to free phone calls. Eugina Willis is a single mother who spent the night here.

Willis: This is like the most coordinated chaos I've ever seen you know, its amazing all the bad things I've heard about being in these type of situations, definitely have gone out the window. 

Organizers are also trying to make sure the kids are calm and safe. A clown by the name of Trick Tony makes balloon animals and entertains kids.

Tony: You guys are being silly...knock, knock

Kids: Who's there

Tony: Car

Kids: Car what? 

Tony: Car go zoom...

Kids: Laughing

And local teachers are a trying to give parents a break by playing games and reading to their kids during the day. High school teacher Sarah Neece leads a coloring activity in the stadium seats.  

Neece: I think taking their minds off it keeping them active and keeping them thinking while they are here and not just bored and dwelling on what might be happening with their homes is really important.

But most people here can't help but to worry about the future as they sleep on makeshift cots or huddle around the stadium television sets.

Joanne Fields is a volunteer here, tasked with answering the many questions evacuees have. Joanne is an evacuee herself. She says the one thing that people want, but don't have here is up-to-date information about homes. 

Fields: The only thing I know how to refer them is to the T-V so just not being able to give them a straight answer is difficult, because I know people are anxious to get home.

But for right now, most people are just happy to be on solid ground. Rick Cass saw his neighborhood go up in flames. He says he's been touched by the outpouring of services and support.

Cass: Really this is America's finest city right here....the amount of people and services and support here at the stadium in the last hours has been unbelievable.

Organizers say they will continue handing out as much as they can until there's no one left at the stadium. Its uncertain how many days these people will have to stay here, but as fire conditions change, some have been able to return to their neighborhoods.

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

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