Lubbock City Leaders Prepare to Take In 600 Rita Evacuees - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/19/05

Lubbock City Leaders Prepare to Take In 600 Rita Evacuees

The City of Lubbock is getting ready to take in up to 600 Rita evacuees. The state emergency operation center contacted city officials late Monday afternoon, and just hours later, they started getting a plan together.

The drill city leaders discussed is similar to the Hurricane Katrina evacuation process. Evacuees would arrive at the airport then stay at Reese Center, events which took place just two weeks ago, but Lubbock Mayor Marc McDougal said they're ready for another round.

It's a familiar scene, and by this weekend we could see a rerun. Lubbock is preparing to house up to 600 state Gulf Coast evacuees, just two weeks after Hurricane Katrina survivors fled to Lubbock.

Lubbock Mayor, Marc McDougal said, "Everybody's ready to go. There was no hesitation about here we go again. Everybody's just ready to ramp up and go."

Rita, now tropical storm, is expected to strengthen to a category four or five hurricane, causing millions along the Gulf Coast to evacuate. Like Katrina survivors, Rita evacuees would arrive at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport and stay at Reese Center. City Council is expected to approve $650 thousand for Rita evacuation efforts this Wednesday.

Because of the city's medical district, many evacuees would be special needs patients.

Councilman, Tom Martin said, "the people should be coming here will generally be people with special needs and they won't have been plucked up on top of a house that was floating around by a helicopter, taken to an airport and put on a plain and flown to Lubbock."

Mayor McDougal says Lubbock had one of the smoothest operations for Katrina evacuees, and that's why the city is being called upon once again.

"What Lubbock did went smoother than anywhere in the state," said McDougal, "they're talking about that all across the state and that's one of the reasons they asked us to be prepared."

McDougal tells us crews will start cleaning Reese Center tomorrow morning and preparing it for Rita evacuees.

City leaders should receive final word by Thursday on which Gulf Coast cities will evacuate and where residents will go.

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