DENTON -- They began showing up the day after Hurricane Katrina struck
the Gulf Coast with nothing more than what they could pack in a car.
With no access to cash or a place to stay, the first family pleading
for shelter at the Quality Inn & Suites promised to pay when money
They wouldn't have to.
The hotel agreed that any evacuee needing a place to stay would get a room for free.
"We decided right then and there that we were going to try to reunite
families during this tragedy," said Cara Leising, a consultant working
for the hotel. "That's what we've been trying to do ever since."
Read more in Room at the Inn for Evacuees by Angela Macias
Big Sandy, TX - Volunteer bus driver James W. Gordon,Jr. thought the
earth was shaking when he got out of his bus full of handicapped and
elderly evacuees of Hurricane Rita. But it was his legs, weak from 16
hours in the crawl of traffic, on Highway 69N, early Friday morning
on,Sept. 23. With limited choices, he pulled into a place he thought
would be safe and ammenable to his passengers, a Walmart parking lot.
Instead, he was greeted by shotgun wielding police officers,whom Gordon
indentified from their uniforms as being from the Woodville Police
"The officers told us that Walmart management did not want us there and
asked us to leave immediately," said Gordon, who is employed by the
Port Arthur Independent School District (PAISD) as a bus driver for the
"We were just so tired and we had people that were sick. One woman
needed oxygen, we called 911 and were told there was nothing they could
do. Finally she was taken to a hospital in Woodville. I don't think she
made it. I drive a bus for the hadicapped, but I'm not equipped to
nurse the sick," he said.
Gordon, seperated from most of his convoy of approximately 39 PAISD
busses, drove to Lufkin where Port Arthur city officials had told him
he would find refuge for his weakened passengers.
"By the time we got to Lufkin, we had been on the road 29 hours. It was
chaos. We had to assist wheelchair passengers out on a lift. Everyone
needed something. Lufkin officials said they didn't have anything for
us. I volunteered because I didn't want Port Arthur to end up like the
people in New Orleans, where the bus drivers deserted," said Gordon.
"As we drove on, we saw someone with a sign that waved us over. It was
St. Patricks' Catholic Church in Lufkin. They told us we could stay at
their church," said volunteer Derrick Turner, driver of PAISD bus
number 56, also for the hadicapped.
Read more in From Big Waves to Big Sandy by Rae Wisor