Federal Officials Visit Lufkin Evacuees

FEMA is slowly, but surely, getting its hurricane relief effort on the right track. Some believe federal leaders are still moving too slowly getting evacuees financial help.

Representatives who visited Lufkin Sunday say they are making sure evacuees have what they need.

FEMA community relations representative, Tosh Johndreau, said, "The purpose of this visit is to basically, take a census - see how the shelter is doing, see what's going on, see what resources FEMA can provide, what else we need to bring in here."

Both volunteers and authorities say the Pentecostal campgrounds are a safe place to be, and not just because there is a curfew and metal detectors on site.

Corporal Wes Ross of the Lufkin Police Department said, "I think it's just that they're happy to be some place where they feel safe and get a nice bed and some good food."

Violence and disorderly conduct has been a problem at shelters in larger cities, but local authorities say they haven't had any of those problems.

"We're here 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Corporal Ross. "We've got at least three officers on duty all the time, and between eight in the morning and eight in the evening, we have an extra two officers on duty."

And FEMA representatives are glad to hear it.

Johndreau said, "From the evacuees' standpoint, they've told me that they're being treated very well [and] that this is a nice shelter. They have all the accommodations they need as far as food, shelter; they're basic needs are being met. I know we're starting to receive some checks here as well."

FEMA will be at the campgrounds this week making sure the shelter is a safe and secure home away from home.

More than a hundred people are living at the Pentecostal campgrounds, but the facility can house more than 300. City leaders say they're prepared to use the building as a shelter for a minimum of three months.