About 500 Hurricane Gustav evacuees from Louisiana were supposed to be calling Lubbock their temporary home by Sunday night, but plans have changed. Now, the city is officially on stand-by.
"We have a great team here and we were able to set up the coliseum and everything in just a matter of hours and we were ready to receive evacuees," says Chief Rhea Cooper, a member of the Hurricane Gustav Unified Command in Lubbock. The Command group had set-up temporary housing for the 500 Louisiana evacuees slated to come to Lubbock to escape the storm, but early Sunday morning, state officials called Lubbock to make a change.
Cooper says, "We're just kinda staying alert and standing down." It ends up the Lubbock shelter isn't needed for right now because space for Louisiana evacuees opened up in Dallas. For a while, the Dallas shelters were full of folks from the Texas coastline, but now that the brunt of Gustav looks like it's only going to hit in Louisiana, not Texas, those evacuees are heading back to their homes on the coast. "It creates shelter space closer to Louisiana to house those folks that were gonna come to Lubbock from Louisiana," Cooper says. However, Lubbock remains on stand-by. That means the cots stay up, food, clothes, and other supplies are still readily available, and the command headquarters is still operating at the Civic Center. Cooper says, "We're gonna leave everything in place like it was and were just gonna minimize the number of people we have out here and we're within two hours of being up and running." Cooper goes on to say, being on stand-by is necessary because storms like Gustav are unpredictable and Lubbock wants to be ready to help when needed. "If they do get another surge or get overcrowded in those closer shelters, that are closer to Lousiana, we may have to start taking the overflow here."
Officials say even if evacuees don't end up coming here, all the money the city is spending to get ready will be reimbursed by the State and Federal governments. Lubbock will probably remain on stand-by at least through the middle of the week.