Tyler working on timeline for evacuee repatriation

Mayor Barbara Bass announced at a press conference this afternoon that the City of Tyler team that is working in Beaumont is reporting that a water test is planned for Saturday evening.  If the water system performs well in this test, it is hoped that the boil water order can be lifted in Beaumont on Sunday morning.  This will allow Beaumont to then reassess their mandatory evacuation order.

"It is our hope that this weekend will bring significant changes in the situation in Beaumont," said Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass.  "I know that the evacuees are, understandably, very anxious to return to their homes."

The Firemen and Police Officers who made the trip to Beaumont in Tyler's mobile command unit are working at a food P.O.D. (point of distribution) to hand out food and water.  They are also providing liaison services in the Beaumont EOC.  We will be sending a relief team today so that the mission can continue through the weekend.

As planning for repatriation begins, a major issue that the City will face is gathering evacuees for the return trip home.  With the assistance of FEMA, many evacuees have moved from shelters into local hotels.  This will complicate efforts to communicate with evacuees about bus departure times and locations.  For evacuees who arrived by bus, the ONLY return transportation that will be provided is the bus convoy returning to Beaumont. A request has been made to State 211 officials to provide a central point of contact for evacuees who have left shelters to register their current location.  As additional information about this process is solidified, the City will notify the media.

Tyler Transit has continued to provide free fixed route bus service to evacuees staying in shelters.  Due to the tremendous number of evacuees accessing this service, an additional bus has been added to the Yellow Line Southeast which services Troup Highway.

"In order for Transit to keep up with the demand for service on the Yellow Line Southeast, we will be adding one additional bus to assist with the demand," said Gary Rushing, Tyler Transit manager.  "This means that one bus will run Yellow Line Southeast while another bus will run Yellow Line Southwest. This step should allow us to transport our regular passengers during the heavy volume."

The City of Tyler has been assured that expenses incurred will be reimbursed through FEMA and the State of Texas.  To date, the expenses are estimated at $275,000; however all expenditures have not been reported.  It is anticipated that the total cost for the City's response to Hurricane Ike could reach $400,000 or more depending upon when evacuees can return to their homes.

"We would again like to thank all of the non-profit organizations in Tyler who have stepped in to help evacuees," said Mayor Bass.  "The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, among many others, have been invaluable in responding to the needs of the evacuees.  The Food Bank of East Texas has distributed more than 104,000 pounds of food which is just an example of the generosity of our community."