Metro mechanic lends hand to Ike evacuee

Monday, September 22nd 2008, 6:56 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

MIDWEST CITY -- This week, thousands of evacuees who fled Galveston to escape Hurricane Ike are being allowed to return home.

One of those families is in the metro, but they barely made it when their car broke down on the way.

Not knowing if they have a home to go back to, or a car to get them there, they were stuck. That was, until a mechanic decided to give them a break.

The owner of the vehicle showed up at Cottman Transmission. Her car needed more than $2,000 in repairs, but it didn't cost her a thing.

The mechanic is finishing up work on the SUV. The transmission needed a complete overhaul.

"It was pretty much tore up internally," Rick Buchanan with Cottman Transmission said. "It needed a torque converter and a bunch of hard parts. It came to about $2,400."

It was $2,400 Natasha Clay didn't have. She left her home in Galveston with only what she and her family could bring with them. They only had a limited amount of money, and were stuck in another state with a vehicle that didn't work.

"$2,400 was more, that is not a little bit of money to me; probably about what I make in a month," Clay said.

But Buchanan and his workers at Cottman called around and got the parts donated and volunteered the labor themselves, which was about $2,000 by alone.

"Well, it's just a good gesture from Oklahomans who want to help our neighbors out," Buchanan said.

"I've never had anybody go out of their way for me and even help us out," Clay said. "It actually made the thought of us having to come here a lot easier."

Clay is ready to get back to Galveston. She doesn't know what or if anything is left of her home. But she is taking the spirit of goodwill back with her.

"Knowing that we're going home to nothing and actually leaving here with something is just breathtaking," Clay said.

Clay plans to leave soon, heading back to Galveston. She said she is going to do volunteer work for hurricane victims as her way of passing her good fortune forward.

Cottman's said this was the first time they had helped someone like this in need, and they verified she was an evacuee through the Red Cross before offering their services.