‘I need them to extend it’: Haven of Mercy CEO hopes for more time as evacuation deadline looms

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- City of Johnson City officials plan to temporarily close the Haven of Mercy Shelter by Friday morning due to “multiple life safety code violations.”

Just hours ahead of the planned closure, Haven of Mercy’s CEO and Pastor Grant Rockley, said he hoping for more time.

In a release issued in January, City of Johnson City officials said in part, “The closure of the building, which houses Haven of Mercy, requires the evacuation of approximately 70 tenants currently residing on the premises.”

“I need them to extend it. Give us a stay of execution until we can provide the Board of Dwellings standards our side of the story showing that we have not been negligent, the place is safe. We have never had a fire…We’re still relying on the Lord to protect us from this,” Rockley said.

Bill Wade works for Haven of Mercy as a maintenance worker, and calls the shelter home.

Wade told News Channel 11 he’s worried about what’s next.

“I have nowhere to go, honestly…there are a lot of people here that are going to be in worse shape. A lot of people who aren’t physically well, mentally well. I don’t know what will happen to them. It’s going to be devastating,” Wade said.

Haven of Mercy officials issued a news release Thursday afternoon and said they have set up tents outside of the shelter for, “media, and various City of Johnson City organizations, “to assist” our residents as they are evacuated, we are asking our Friends and Supporters to pray for a miracle to take place in these board members’ hearts. It is our sincere intent to comply and continue to provide safe shelter to all those who come to our doors in need.”

Johnson City officials told Kassahun they will provide winter clothing and blankets for the residents vacating the property.

Johnson City housing authority, executive director Richard McClain said food, like biscuits and coffee, will be provided as well.

The residents will then be transported to Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church for intake.

According to the release, Rockley said the planned closure of the shelter is scheduled for February 19 at 8 a.m.

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