Blind Child Among Longview Evacuees

There's a little girl in the Longview shelter giving thousands of evacuees and volunteers hope. Separated from her mother, the 4-year-old is relying on her aunts and uncles for care. Energetic and playful like all children, Meracle was watched over carefully by family members as they finally made their way to Longview from New Orleans. Blind from birth, Meracle had to be watched closely by her family.

"We spent a night on the causeway and four nights in a bank, a four-story bank,. I had to watch her closely, very closely," says her uncle Derrick Dantzler.

Separated from her mother even before the hurricane hit, Meracle has been cared for by aunts and uncles. But her presence at the shelter has captured the attention of fellow evacuees and volunteers alike.

"I spotted her immediately, so we had a good bonding, but she feels safe and that's the most important thing for any child, particularly these children.  If you spend any time here at all, they feel safe," says shelter volunteer Victoria Wilson-Blackaller.

Her uncle took Meracle and three other relatives' children to safety, and can't imagine leaving without Meracle.

"She's a baby.  She's like any other baby, basically except she's blind, so it's a blessing to have her around," says Dantzler.

Through touch and hearing, she's keenly aware of what's going on around her. Her only problem has been sleeping, because she left her favorite baby doll in Louisiana and has often cried about it. Now, she has a replacement.

"And we gave her the baby and she jumped up and down this huge smile on her face and she didn't cry last night," says Blackaller.

Volunteers are working with Longview Independent School District to get Meracle into special learning programs for the blind.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.