Giving Thanks For Hurricane Relief Efforts

After the community's overwhelming support during the hurricanes, the City of Tyler wanted to praise residents at a special "Thanks for Giving" ceremony on Tuesday. Mayor Joey Seeber says, "We just wanted to thank all of those that helped with Hurricane Rita and Katrina and just say in a formal way we appreciate you opening your homes and opening your churches and helping those that needed help from the hurricane."

Community leaders, volunteers and hurricane survivors came together to recognize the City of Tyler and Smith County on their response to hurricane relief. Hurricane Katrina survivor, Chanell Brown, arrived in Tyler on Labor Day. She says she was lost and confused and unsure what the future would hold. At the end of the day, she had an apartment, and the next day, a job. "Everyday since that day forward has been so positive and moving forward very rapidly and everything fell into place perfectly the lost I was feeling went away, the confusion was gone and my future seemed much much brighter," says Brown. With a brighter future ahead, Brown decided to make Tyler her home. She thanked the City of Tyler and residents for welcoming all the evacuees with open arms. Brown says, "The out pouring of compassing that you all showed to me and my family and also helping me become a survivor of Hurricane Katrina."

Together, survivors and volunteers planted a holly tree outside City Hall. The holly tree is an expression of thanks to those who contributed to hurricane relief efforts. Brown is working at the East Texas Workforce Center as a career specialist, which includes helping other evacuees get the same benefits she has received.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.