Tyler shelters full; medical personnel needed

Right now, Longview is housing over 700 evacuees in shelters.

The city of Tyler estimates six thousand have come into our area in the last 24 hours with 16 shelters housing almost 3,300. One of those shelters is at the old Wal-Mart on Troup Highway.

That's where KLTV 7's Danielle Capper was today - it's the largest of the city's shelters, housing 1,600 people, the equivalent of about 5 to 6 other shelters.

Across the city, all shelter space is full. Friday afternoon, we spoke evacuees and city officials about what they are going to do now.

They came in cars, in buses, and have filled up the city. Sll hotel rooms and shelters are full. Evacuees now are being sent to Dallas or other Texas cities.

"There are 21 of us and we have a 5 car convoy," said Shanna Sells.

At Faulkner Park this afternoon, before it closed, we met many evacuees.

"It's been kinda hard. We stopped at two or three places at hotels trying to get a room and stuff. But they have pretty much been packed. We left pretty early, around six o'clock," said Stefan Jackson, who's from Kirbyville.

State officials estimate 1.2 million Texans evacuated from their homes, many just thankful to get away.

"Gustav, I stayed, man. So I had a bad feeling about Ike so me and my family we got out of there this time," said Ed Walton, a Beaumont evacuee.

"I'm just blessed right now. There are still a lot of people searching and don't have places to go, are still just back there in harm's way," said Sells.

"We got a deal with this right now. It could be worse," said Ed Walton, from Beaumont.

And now that evacuees are here, the city has shifted their focus to meeting their needs.

Hygene kits, blankets, pillows, cots and of course meals, but they need help.

"Our biggest concern right now is a shortage of medical personnel. Specifically nursing," said Dr. Jonathan McClements.

The need for medical personnel is great. Nurses, EMTs, and anyone who has first aid training.

If you are able to help, please call the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

That number is (903) 939-5779.

Danielle Capper, reporting. dcapper@kltv.com