Storm Aftermath: A Family, A Prayer, An Answer

by Justin Michaels (KTRE-TV contributing reporter from Raycom sister station KCBD)

Most people when they go to a hotel, stay in a nice comfortable room.  East Texas News reporter Justin Michaels found a different story for one praying family that found an answer in a motel lobby.

"We decided to leave on Wednesday and we packed up and left Wednesday afternoon around three o'clock."

Hurricane Ike's path toward Texas prompted Phyllis Gripp and her family to flee their home in Lake Jackson, Texas. "We drove straight Mississippi. We have family in central Mississippi so we went there to stay a few days," said Phyllis, who had to leave her husband and other family members to brave the storm.

After Ike passed through and the danger subsided, it was time to head home.  "We made it to Lufkin, here to the expo inn and waiting to go back to Lake Jackson tomorrow."

But when they got to Lufkin, motel after motel, including the Expo Inn, told them there was no room available.  "The young lady at the desk asked us where we were from and we told her and she said she had this room set up for workers that were coming in but that we could use some of the mattresses for the night."  A prayer answered.  Room at Lufkin's Expo Inn for Phyllis and her family to safely stay for the night, and, for free. "I can't imagine... we could have been sleeping on the side of the road. There's curfews back at home, I don't know how far up the curfews go. And that would have been our next step just sleeping in our cars until we could go through."  Now for some, that would probably have been just fine, a little uncomfortable, but fine nonetheless.  But, there's a twist.  Jonathon Wesley, or Bubba for short is travelling with them.  He's a little guy just more than a year old and sleeping in a car on the side of the road just wasn't an option.  So, the staff at the Expo Inn came through for a family not even from Lufkin.

"Just knowing everybody's safe and all.... The rest of it we can work out."

The Gripp family does plan on leaving the Expo Inn today (Monday) to make their way from Lufkin back to Lake Jackson.