After being guests in east Texas for the last few days, Hurricane Gustav evacuees boarded buses this morning, returning to their homes. Governor Rick Perry stopped by a Tyler shelter this morning to say thanks "to all of the Texans who performed in a powerful way," especially east Texans. KLTV 7's Layron Livingston was there as the Governor gave evacuees a personal send off.
It's been the plan, now, for days: getting thousands of evacuees out of east Texas shelters and on their way back home.
"I wish folks from Beaumont and Port Arthur weren't in Tyler, Texas right now under the circumstances. I wish they were here going through the Rose Garden because they were on vacation," said Gov. Perry today.
Gov. Perry saw that plan put into action today, something the Governor says the state should be proud of three years after Katrina.
"All of these citizens would, a whole lot, rather be moving back to home knowing that they've had 72-96 hours of being discombobulated, rather than what we saw three years ago. People being saved off rooftops, and the substantial loss of life," said Gov. Perry. "We do it right in Texas."
It's something he says those citizens appreciate.
"I asked each of them as I went by, was their stay in Tyler good, and they said yes!"
One by one, the buses rolled up for the nearly 800 evacuees at Harvey Hall it was obvious - it was time to go home.
"I want to go see my friends and I want to go see how my house looks, and my room looks," said Sydney Edwards.
"I know we're going to get home safely, so there's no need to worry. The worst part is over....it's with the storm," said Joelle Johnson.
"No one likes to be picked and moved out of their homes," said Gov. Perry. "We would much rather be dealing with buses than with body bags."
The first of 55 buses began shuttling evacuees back to southeast Texas this morning, all escorted by DPS troopers.
The state's Homeland Security director says many of those buses should be arriving in Beaumont Wednesday afternoon.