At least 15 of the 408 Hurricane Katrina survivors who sought shelter in Lubbock are leaving to reunite with family members across the country. At least 35 others are scheduled to leave within the next couple days.
Volunteers worked one on one with each survivor staying at Reese Center to help them contact family members and arrange transportation. The trips were made possible because dozens donated Southwest frequent flier miles.
Chairman of the Lubbock Red Cross, Greg Bruce said, "That's neat because we're able to get these people out and they're excited when they've made contact with family and we've made arrangements to get them out and you don't want to delay that if you can help it."
The government has arranged a travel agency to help survivors reunite with family, but that could take days to set up. NewsChannel 11 talked with a family who doesn't have to wait, the Cummings family experienced a flight delay Tuesday, September 6th, but will leave Wednesday because someone donated frequent flier miles.
Wednesday will be the end of a very long journey which started Sunday, September 3rd, when they were flown from New Orleans to Lubbock. They'll now leave Lubbock for Baton Rouge. The news brings a happiness they haven't had in days.
Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina survivors landed on safe ground in Lubbock Sunday, one week after Katrina wiped out New Orleans. Two days later, 15 survivors are set to reunite with family. Sharon Cummings said, "I'm very excited to go back home to be with my family, just to be with loved ones-- to know that everyone made it out safe, and we're all back together."
The Cummings family tried to ride out the storm in New Orleans, and after Katrina hit. They waited for days in the flooded streets not knowing their fate.
Robert Cummings said, "I'm six feet tall and the water was up to my shoulders. I had to take my little sister and put her on my back. My niece, she was big enough to walk, but it was up to her head. I mean, dead bodies floating around and everything."
"They picked us up one by one onto the chopper," Sharon recalled.
A rescue crew finally got to them Sunday, and Reese Center has since been their safe haven. Robert said, "Y'all have been real nice to us." "We're grateful... blessed," said Sharon, "Everybody's been great and just overwhelming really. Word's can't explain."
All the donated goods they now own fits in one bag. The entire experience from New Orleans to Lubbock and finally to Baton Rouge is one they'll always remember. Jaimie Cummings said, "This was a good experience, I know it's something I'll never forget." Sharon said, "Survival-- it's knowing how to survive."
The Cummings' trip was made possible because of donated frequent flier miles. If you have tickets or travel rewards to donate, call American Red Cross at (806) 765-8534.
|Hurricane Katrina Special Section|