Preparation is key to serving hurricane evacuees - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Preparation is key to serving hurricane evacuees

By Donna McCollum

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - If Katrina and Rita taught these dedicated public servants one thing it's preparation. In a concise and focused meeting they spread out maps of Gustav's path which are provided by the Columbia Center. " This is just a little bit closer look at gustav,"  it's pointed out. The maps, the highway signs, the mechanical checks. None of this is over reaction as some critics routinely say. Instead it's preparedness.

Nacogdoches County Emergency Coordinator Robert Hurst informs the group,  " We have activated what they call the Eastern evacuation quarter. " Down the list they go making sure everyone is fulfilling their duties.  Hurst scans the group and said,  " And let's start with our massive care shelter, American Red Cross. " Right now we're concentrating on the churches inside the city limits, only at this time. So if we are looking at a Texas strike we obviously need to call everybody," explained Director, Glenna Harkness. Since yesterday afternoon, the city has had state authorization to open shelters.

For now it's still a wait and see game. Back to the map. The path shows, " The change is very back and forth." Nacogdoches Emergency Coordinator, Tommy Wheeler said,  " We're ready, as far as to open up, possibly make it our EOC (emergency operations center) , tomorrow or Sunday depending on how it looks throughout the day. "

No evacuees were here as of Friday morning, but with Gustav barreling down on the coast they may soon be. Hurst explained, " At the 72 hour portion of the cone, the hurricane will still be just outside the Gulf or just about to enter. This is the optimum time to start the evacuation."

But coastal residents with expensive livestock are ready to roll.   Hurst asked, " It's not just interest, they're ready to travel?" Expo director Bill Plunkett responded,  " Oh yes, all the way from Beaumont, vidor and Louisiana."

In every case, organizers were thinking of others and not themselves. They don't want to turn a holiday weekend into work, but are willing to do so if necessary. Hurst concludes, " Hopefully, this is the last time we'll see each other, except for social things on the street. " Not likely, the dedicated workers requested another meeting for Saturday afternoon.  

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