Some Evacuees Head Home; Buses Leaving Monday

It's been one week since Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas coast, and evacuees say they are eager to get back home.  Some, however, will have to wait just a couple more days before they get to see what Ike left behind.

As of Saturday morning, the mandatory evacuation order was lifted for the City of Beaumont and Jefferson County.  Beaumont is the home city to many of the evacuees Tyler has been hosting.  The buses that brought the nearly 3,000 evacuees will not be leaving until Monday, but as KLTV 7's Danielle Capper shows us Saturday many self evacuees decided to hit the road.


"My mother in law is sitting at the edge of the driveway with her little suitcase saying 'Are we leaving yet?'".  The Roberts family says their stay in Tyler was great, but they're heading out.

"This will be a little bit quicker and more enjoyable trip back," said Michael Roberts.  A trip the Port Neches family has made before.

"We came up here for Gustav," said Roberts.  "Went back and turned around a week later and found out we needed to come back up here for Ike.  With Ike it has caused for a little more extended stay."  They've been in Tyler since last Thursday with all their irreplaceable's such as family photos, just in case.

"Honestly, everybody is feeling pretty blessed after Rita," said Roberts.  "There was a substantial amount of damage with Rita."  Their community got spared from substantial damage, but Roberts who has driven back this week for work says Bridgecity, a community just 15 minutes from them wasn't so lucky.

"People there are pulling all their furnishings and belongings, carpeting, and pulling it all to the street," said Roberts.  "It's so sad.  At one case and in the other you feel real blessed at the minor damage we had, or the inconvenience we had.  It doesn't compare."  The power has been restored to their home, but half of Beaumont is still without.  The water is running, but the residents are being warned of the dire conditions.

The City of Tyler said it has not yet determined exactly when the buses will leave Monday. Evacuees from the Galveston area are understandably ready to go home as well.  The city says there's a plan to make that happen beginning Wednesday.

The town's 45,000 evacuees will be allowed to return in phases starting from the least damaged areas, but it's going to be tough because there's still no power, limited sewer services and spotty water utilities.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.