City Leaders Want Out Of The "Shelter Business"

"The people are comfortable," said Howard Watts. "They're on beds - not cots or mattresses - so they are comfortable and everybody here is comfortable, so why are they trying to move them around to San Antonio or wherever they're saying they had a shelter at, way away from their home?"

Howard Watts runs the Community Club in San Augustine. He's providing about 30 Rita evacuees with food, shelter, and beds. He's happy to have them there, and they're glad to be there.

Candace Marchant of Beaumont said, 'We have all our needs being met. This is ridiculous, this is a case of prejudice. This is a case of not caring about the little guys and the Black people and the poor people."

Stanley Compton went home to Beaumont last week because he got the okay to return. He ended up back at the shelter.

"This guy came in here from the sheriff's department, told my wife and I we could go home," said Compton. "We went home; no lights, no water, everything was all messed up so we had to come back."

Beaumont resident, Pamela Rogers, also made a blank trip back to the Gulf Coast. She said although she was urged to leave San Augustine, she found out Beaumont is not a safe place to be.

"It seems like no one wants to help unless we beg or cry or tell them that our situation is just as dire as it was for Katrina [victims]," Rogers said.

Watts said city and county leaders in San Augustine have repeatedly come by the shelter asking evacuees to leave, but city leaders say they're welcome to stay as long as they need to.

Ken Delacerda, San Augustine police chief, said, "We are trying to work our way into a position where we're no longer in the shelter business. But as yet, because we don't have an alternate place for them to go, no one has been asked or told to leave. We did tell them we were working toward that, but that we would not ask anybody to leave until we had an alternate place for them to go - either home or to another shelter closer to home."

FEMA representatives arrived in San Augustine Tuesday. They set up a center at the county courthouse to help Rita evacuees get the help they need.