Small Towns Taking In Evacuees - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/4/05-Longview

Small Towns Taking In Evacuees

Many large and medium-sized Texas cities are involved in helping evacuees, but a tiny Lake O the Pines community has opened its heart and homes to numerous evacuees. Less than a thousand people live in the Johnson Creek area of Lake O the Pines, but this small community has taken it upon themselves to adopt more than 100 evacuees.

"We came here and they took us in as if we were family and friends and it's been wonderful since.  They've found shelter for us put us up," says Connie Pacquet, of Metairie, LA.

Business people and homeowners have let the tired travelers stay in their own homes.  Some have stayed in spare rooms in the local Chevron station.  The local motel took in whole families and are letting them stay in rooms, no charge.

"We've been made comfortable all our needs met.  We've gotten aid and I don't think I could have gone anywhere else in the world," says Sandra Thibodeaux of Aroby, LA.

"You look at it as if this was you.  You'd want somebody to help you and that's how this community is.  Somebody in need, they're there to help them," said Lake O the Pines resident, Gary Carroll.

Residents have collected food and clothing, toys for the kids, and even given their own money to help them with gas and necessities.

"These are friends now.  This is family.  They've treated us like family.  They haven't treated us like strangers.  They haven't treated us like evacuees," said Pacquet.

Less than a thousand people live in the area, but ask any of the evacuees, and they'll say it may be small but it's a community of very very big people.

Bob Hallmark reporting, bhallmark@kltv.com

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