Woman calls emergency shelter 'home away from home'

Many of the families who are without power have had to live in shelters to keep warm. Around northwest Michigan several of these shelters have been set up to get people out of the dark.

7&4's Kate Fox was at one of the American Red Cross Shelters Monday night in Leelanau County, she brings us this story new at 11:00pm.

The Suttons Bay Fire Department has become a place of refuge for dozens of families in Leelanau County, it's a chance to warm up, get food and water and stay safe in these harsh winter conditions.

Heather Sutter from Suttons Bay is staying at the shelter at the Suttons Bay Fire Department, she says, "I've been through some winter storms before, pretty significant ones but nothing like this..."

It's a winter blast that pounded all of northern Michigan, leaving thousands in the dark and looking for shelter.

Sutter says, "It was a ghost town in Suttons Bay yesterday, there was no movement, trees down everywhere. It looked like a tornado had gone through..."

And while the storm may be over, the aftermath continues even days later. Just ask Heather Sutter and her 12 year-old son Bailey -- whose world has turned upside down the last few days.

The heavy, wet snow that Friday's storm dumped caused a large pine tree in Sutter's backyard to come crashing down. It wiped out a power-line and slammed onto the roof of her house. Sutter explains, "We had some arcing and flashing and we lost power at that point. We were able to spend the night at the house but by morning it was just too cold to be there anymore and we had to leave."

In search of warmth, food and safety for her family -- Sutter turned to the American Red Cross and found just what she was looking for at the Suttons Bay Fire Department. She says, "this is home away from home at this point. Were showering here, were getting ready here, getting our meals here, playing board games, staying entertained as much as we can here... "

It may just be a temporary home but Sutter says the love and kindness she's experienced from folks at the shelter is something she'll take with her forever. She says, "learning everyone else's story and knowing that I'm not alone in this has been wonderful, I mean not wonderful that were going through this, but at least were going through this together and we will make it through it..."

The messy situation is no match for Sutter's positive attitude and perseverance -- something she says the American Red Cross has taught her. Sutter says, "I never realized how important the Red Cross was until this point. I'm so grateful that they are here and they definitely have given me an eye-opening experience for what they do for people. I'm definitely looking forward to giving back at some point."

Heather Sutter and her son are staying in the shelter again Monday night and as of 11:00pm they were still without power.