Hurricane Isaac evacuees in East Texas - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Hurricane Isaac evacuees in East Texas

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SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

Since Monday, East Texas has become a temporary home for several people leaving Hurricane Isaac's path.

The Red Cross of East Texas has opened one shelter for evacuees in Tyler, and hotels around the area have reported receiving a few customers who have fled the storm's path.

We've spoken to a number of hotels around East Texas, and almost half of them said they have had a few reservations set up from evacuees for Tuesday evening.

The Days Inn Hotel in Lindale has already had their first evacuee check in. Aelita Pinter came to East Texas seven years ago after Hurricane Katrina. She says it was her experience then that brought her back this time.

"The main reason was it was a convenient stopping point. In other words, you drive for so many hours, you stop," said Pinter. "And then when Katrina came, well, just come here. It's as simple as that. People say, 'Why don't you stop in Shreveport?' I say, 'I don't want to stop in Shreveport. I want to go here.'"

Pinter said she has learned over the years to look at steering currents on the map -- she reads the highs and lows and jet streams, and while she can't predict exactly where the storm will hit, it did help her this time to make her decision.

"I've lived there for over 40 years, and you learn certain things you know it's going to be a hit. I left yesterday, because I knew if I left today it would be at a standstill," said Pinter.

Pinter said after seeing what Hurricane Katrina did to her seven years ago, she didn't want to take the chance of it happening again with Hurricane Isaac.

But a few of the hotels we checked in with today, like Tyler's Candlewood Suites, said they have had cancellations from evacuees, which could mean some people have decided to wait out the storm.

The Candlewood Suites hotel manager Tina Makowsky said she's only received calls this week from people who live in South Louisiana, but she's seen a lot of people choose to evacuate to Tyler over the last few years and she believes she knows why.

"Maybe (because it's) close to the Louisiana border, East Texas. Just close enough to where they're close to home, but just far enough to get away from the hurricane," Makowsky said.

Tonight, Vernon Taylor of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and his dog and family were the first people to arrive at the Red Cross of East Texas's evacuation shelter in Tyler.

He said this is the first time he and his family have evacuated to Texas. They have previously evacuated to Mississippi and California to escape hurricanes.

"Once there's a hurricane threat I leave, because of the floods. You never know when it's going to flood and the levee's going to give way," Taylor said. "And people die. A lot of people died in Katrina. And the same thing could happen here. It don't take much."

Pinter said she decided to drive to East Texas because of the generosity of the people.

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