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Hurricane Harvey evacuees describe ‘chaos’

August 26, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT
About 130 miles inland from Corpus Christi lies Texas’ second-most populous city of San Antonio. On Saturday, after Hurricane Harvey ravaged sections of the Texas coast, residents and emergency workers were caring for a surge of evacuees from surrounding areas. NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker traveled there to speak with survivors of the storm.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Here at the Salvation Army’s emergency family shelter in San Antonio, relief efforts are less about what happened as the storm made landfall, and more about what’s still to come.

MARYANN GAYTAN: To get ready, we had to pre-plan in the last 72 hours and even before that. And it was hard to plan, but we did plan for things like ordering extra food.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Maryann Gaytan is a case manager at the shelter.

MARYANN GAYTAN: We’re in need of towels, things like deodorant, toothpaste, the basic essentials for the clients who come in who don’t come in with anything, who have had to abandon their immediate place of habitation.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Even before the storm, this shelter — primarily for homeless and at-risk women and families — was already at full capacity.

The salvation army brought in trucks filled with extra food and supplies.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Are you are you worried about what the fallout will be from this storm?

MARYANN GAYTAN: The worry really comes more from the make sure everybody is safe and secure here in our building, and then the local community coming in from the places of non-habitation.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: A few miles away, at one of the Red Cross centers in San Antonio, a a large volunteer effort is underway.

Among the volunteers are three college students, who evacuated their home in Corpus Christi — 140 miles away — yesterday.

BRIDGET DELEON: We boarded up the house, we tried to push everything, and it was hectic. It was chaos in Corpus, because all the stores were getting rammed out and, I mean, we were just focused on, let’s get the house ready and let’s get out of here because we don’t want to hit traffic.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Today they learned their house in Corpus Christi had been damaged in the storm.

JANIQUE PATTERSON: One of our friends from back home — our coworker–sent us pictures.

ARLENE ZUNIGA: Our trees in front, like, my room, window, in front of the house has been uprooted. The damages could have been a lot worse and we’re thankful for just the minor things and thankful for us coming all the way over here and not being stuck in there.

JANIQUE PATTERSON: I’m a little bit worried to see what we go back to. We don’t know what to expect really.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Henry van de Putte is executive director of the greater San Antonio Red Cross. He says he’s not sure what aid will be needed next.

How many people are currently in need of shelter?

HENRY VAN DE PUTTE: Right now currently in San Antonio we’re right around 1,000 people. The need could be increasing or decreasing based on the situation on the ground, which you know is changing.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Chris you’ve been in and around sa all day, this is the city that people have evacuated to from the coast but it’s also a city that’s in preparation mode for the rain that’s coming.

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: That’s right, we spent the day visiting numerous places. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and we spoke with a number of people who are bas getting ready for an unknown number of people who have left the coast basically who are at the forefront of Harvey’s arrival. We went to one of the main staging areas where the state has hundreds of buses and emergency vehicles that every now and again will leave and 10 to 15 bus convoys. We spoke with a police officer at the gate who said they’re heading south toward the coastline.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the flooding that they’re expecting to have?

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Right now there’s been some flooding, it’s largely just standing water in San Antonio. We visited areas in the city that are known to flood and some of the roads were indeed closed but the flooding itself wasn’t v high. We saw a mail truck delivering mail, cutting through the streets. It really didn’t seem to be cutting into the activity of the city.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Chris Booker, thanks so much.