Evacuees wait out storm in OKC shelter

Tuesday, September 2nd 2008, 7:23 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- About 1,700 Gulf Coast residents are waiting to return home after seeking refuge from Hurricane Gustav at an Oklahoma City shelter.

Many evacuees said they're pleased with the accommodations at the Evacuee Support Center.

Televisions and games were provided to keep the temporary residents informed and entertained.

The evacuees were provided electricity, hot meals and showers.

"Yesterday was hectic, but when we got up this morning, it's like, they must have stayed up all night. Everything was different," evacuee Gary Jones said.

Everyone was given a bed to sleep on during their stay. Doctors are on-hand to write prescriptions, logging 150 since the buses arrived.

"Where we're sleeping, you know, there's always people watching. When you go to the bathroom, you won't be by yourself. Nothing will happen to you, the security's real tight," evacuee Candace Williams said.

Police arrested 16 people since the evacuee's arrival for felony warrants, public drunkenness or graffiti. Many evacuees said they felt safe, crediting the police presence throughout the Evacuee Support Center.

"It's kind of upsetting because I don't have many things to do around here," evacuee Dillon Constantine said. "I'm trying to make fun out of it."

Some people said they regret evacuating, claiming the damage was not what they expected.

"I'm praying that we go back home," evacuee Jimmy Harris said. "I'm ready to leave."

There has been no estimate on when the evacuees will be able to return to the Gulf, however, emergency officials continue to work with Louisiana officials on a timeline for the buses' return.

People can return, if they have their own transportation.

"Keep in mind there's a lot of roads that are under water," Okla. Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said.

Jennifer Jackson said she's ready to make her last trip back to her Louisiana home.

"I'm anxious to get back to see if anything was destroyed and make sure other family members are OK," Jackson said. "We might be going back to collect our things and move on."

The Jackson family said they considered moving to Oklahoma City.

The shelter continued to prepare for the possibility of more evacuees.