Evacuees Shuffled Around One More Time - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/14/05 - Nacogdoches

Evacuees Shuffled Around One More Time

by Donna McCollum

Months before Hurricane Katrina all Nacogdoches and some Lufkin hotels had their rooms reserved by those planning to attend SFA's Parent's Weekend. This Saturday's event is a big money maker for hotels, but now managers are having to weigh who they should serve-- evacuees already in their hotels or parents.

New Orleans evacuee John Lewis Jr. caught on last week that many Nacogdoches hotel managers wanted their rooms available for the event. "We had already talked to another hotel and that other hotel had told us we would have to get out by the 16th. My fiancé called around and she found the Victorian Inn."

Manager Kiran Patel told them they could stay as long as they needed a room. "I can send them out,but then again, no. Even these people react the same way. We have been here ever since this happened, so to get them out now, I think is not humane."

There are hotels definitely telling evacuees to leave. In fact, the majority of them. That's why the American Red Cross shelter is preparing for another wave of evacuees for a weekend stay.

But evacuees at Victorian Inn won't be shuffled around. Last week Patel offered reserved customers a discounted room at his company's San Augustine hotel. If they declined he made the tough business decision to cancel their reservations. Patel said, "Many, many understood, but then some people were angry and I understand their frustrations because there is no room here."

We're told so far even the customers who lost their reservations this time haven't canceled their rooms for Homecoming.

Lewis suggests to angry parents to put themselves in his situation. "Try to understand. I mean a lot of us don't have our houses to go home to. A lot of us are homesick. I miss my city. I love my city. And I hate the fact I can't go back. It's not like I have a choice."

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