Special Needs Shelter In Tyler Closes

It's been just over a week now since the shelter at Tyler Junior College began caring for Rita evacuees with special needs. It's not an ordinary volunteer experience, evacuees there have to be cared for 24/7.
"It took me 14 hours to get into Lufkin. And then we had to sleep in the car," says Beaumont evacuee Willie Crawford. Crawford, who will be 81 next month, couldn't stay at just any shelter.
"I've had two spinal surgeries and a pin in my back," says Crawford. His condition affects his ability to walk. He says the care he's received here has been second to none.
"One volunteer, for every meal we got, would tell me and my wife to sit at the table she's going to get the meal and bring it to us. So they've been wonderful! I hated to see her go." "We consider it a privilege to have evacuees here," says Shelter Manager Dr. Bennie Webster. Since its opening last week, the special needs shelter had as many 300 evacuees.
Officials know the hardest part will be saying goodbye. "They realize that when they came here there had to be an exiting process so we're trying to get them in places where they can get taken care of and relocate them with their families," says Dr. Webster. The attention these evacuees received even extended to men and women in uniform. "They danced with the troopers. They had a great time, we been laughing about it ever since," says Lt. Col. Luis Fernandez with the Texas Medical Rangers. They are memories that will hopefully overshadow the destruction that many of these evacuees have to return home to.
Although the shelter is closing Friday afternoon, officials say they still need volunteers in the process. If you'd like to help, call 903-595-1350.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com