Mom, special needs son turned away from shelter during storm

The mother of a man with special needs said she and they were turned away from a Volusia County hurricane shelter and were forced to ride out Hurricane Matthew in their home.

When the health of Susan Weir’s son suddenly deteriorated, he had to be hospitalized in the middle of the storm.

Weir had to wait hours for the storm to clear enough to enable her to drive her son to Halifax Health.

Her son was admitted and survived, but her fear was that it could've played out very differently.

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Weir was frantically trying to find a shelter on Thursday that would take in her 28-year-old son, Andrew, who has a traumatic brain injury.

"He can't be without electricity," said Weir.

On Thursday, Weir, said she packed their things and took Andrew to one of Volusia's County's designated special-needs shelters.

But she was refused and was told to “take him to the hospital."

Weir said hospitals wouldn't take him because there was no medical emergency.

But Andrew's body can't regulate its temperature, so he needs air conditioning and electricity for an essential pump.

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Weir knew if the power went out, it could be a matter of life or death.

"So I guess if they don't let us in there, we're just going to stay here and hope we don't lose power," said Weir.

They lost power during the storm and Andrew became ill.

"That's what was the danger was that we had no place to go and nothing we could do," she said.

Weir said she waited out the storm for hours until she could drive Andrew to Halifax Health, where he was admitted.

Weir said she saw other people turned away from the shelter and hospital because they didn't meet certain criteria.

Now, she wants to talk to emergency management officials about closing the shelter gap before it kills someone.

"Just pray they can work out these things before next time so that Andrew or anybody else doesn't have to go through it again," said Weir.

Volusia County said it does not accept special-needs patients who require care around the clock.

Weir's home-care provider said they tried to coordinate with hospitals, but they were denied.

Halifax Health did not release a statement.

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