Tyler preps for Gustav evacuees

The closer Gustav gets, folks here at home are prepared for a busy Labor Day weekend.

Schools, churches, hospitals - you name it, east Texas communities are working together to help evacuees.

Wrapping up a long week of preparations, as Gustav churns closer towards the coast, local volunteers are poised and ready to act.

"In here we have all of the supplies used for local construction and renovation but also stuff we use on our response teams," said Travis White. Volunteers with Mission Tyler have made a dozen trips to New Orleans and Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina.

Their tools and supplies are stocked, in case Gustav destroys homes.

"We will be a first responder team that'll go down and start saving people's houses. Doing mud-outs and clean-outs, even helping with feeding units if we're needed," said White.

At the Salvation Army, cots are being set-up for about 50 first responders, plus another 75 people from a Beaumont nursing home.

"We don't know what the storm is going to do. Hopefully it won't be anything terribly devastating but we do need to be prepared and that's basically what we're doing. And we would like to appeal to people to donate their time, their talent, and their treasure," said Debbie Kirkland.

UT Tyler is also setting up a shelter for some 200 special needs patients from Beaumont.

"We are putting mats on the gymnasium floor which will be our area for triage."

Dr. Linda Klotz remembers the chaos and devastation three years ago when evacuees came to Tyler.

"It was really scary. Families were getting separated."

But that was then. And, she says this time around, the state is much-more prepared.

"There are plans in place, we've got our ducks in a row, got our supplies, cots ordered."

Stocked, set, and ready to go - for what could be a hectic Labor Day weekend.

Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com