NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Shelters in Lufkin and Nacogdoches are positioned to open up if and when they get the call from the state to do so.
East Texans are perplexed why the safe havens aren't already in operation.
"The state has a plan, and we know Red Cross has a plan and sometimes we don't always understand it," said the Rev. Walker McWilliams, the missions associate pastor at Lufkin's First Baptist Church.
Emergency management spokesperson Sgt. Greg Sowell explained ...
"At this point we have been told that the shelters are not needed," Sowell said.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management's list of opened shelters in the state is 12 pages long. The agency reports over 23,000 people are staying in hundreds of shelters across the state, yet the go ahead to open shelters north of Jasper and Trinity hasn't happened. It's all part of the state plan.
"So the first option is sheltering in the same city, if that's possible," Sowell said. "In the situation like they were at on the coast they sent them as far north, which is Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio."
To fully understand the reasoning go back to the period from 2005 to 2009 during Hurricanes Rita, Gustav, and Ike. Lessons were learned. The state developed a plan to work backwards on the escape route.
"If Dallas gets full it works back this way, to Tyler-Longview, Nacogdoches-Lufkin," Sowell said.
It's important to keep shelters in the path of danger available. It prevents a backlog, similar to what happened on Highway 59 during Ike when people died in their cars.
Also, efficient use of supplies and personnel must be taken into consideration. The state would rather send supplies to a mass of people in a large shelter, rather than make frequent stops at shelters housing fewer individuals.
Emergency management leaders in Lufkin and Nacogdoches are in conversation with state disaster officials at least three times a day.
The latest word from the American Red Cross is roads to East Texas are still blocked from the Golden Triangle area, so evacuees are being routed to the east. Red Cross operates the shelters once given the STATE order to open.
East Texas News spoke to a Harvey evacuee in Nacogdoches Thursday.
"We had to, we had to leave as soon as possible," said Cicely Jacobs, a storm evacuee. "We have nothing. We came with a few pairs of clothes. We have nothing."
When needs like that are heard, it's difficult for some service agencies to say no.
Love In The Name of Christ, United Way, Community Action, and American Red Cross are teaming up to serve evacuees where ever possible.
Hotel vouchers and Wal Mart gift cards are available for very low-income evacuees. Love INC on Ruby Street in Nacogdoches is the check in location.