Going home for the holidays is no longer possible for nearly 300 Hurricane Katrina survivors still living in Lubbock. Christmas is almost here, and while most people are thinking about what they want, survivors of Hurricane Katrina are thankful for what they still have.
You'll remember more than 400 people came to Lubbock in September after losing everything to Katrina. They stayed in shelters at Reese Center until they could find permanent housing. Those who stayed are about to spend Christmas in a new home in a new city.
If you remember NewsChannel 11 interviewed Katrina Survivor Charles Thomas at Reese Center in September.
"I'm filling out an application for an electricity job," Thomas told us at the time.
Thomas had just arrived in Lubbock. He and his family of six were evacuated to Lubbock after Katrina destroyed their city and their home in New Orleans. They arrived homeless and with no possessions. They stayed at Reese Center along with hundreds of other survivors.
"Last year at this time I didn't know what a Lubbock, Texas was," Thomas told us Friday as he laughed.
Thomas, his wife, and three children ages 13, 12 8, and nine-month-old godson now call Lubbock home. Now they're getting ready to spend their first Christmas in their new apartment and new city. They've completely started over with everything from new toys for the kids, holiday decorations and of course new pictures, since all of their old ones were destroyed.
Thomas says the entire experience of not knowing the next step was tragic but he still finds a reason to celebrate and to be thankful this Christmas.
"Not knowing where you're going, not knowing what you're going to eat, now knowing what you're going to drink, not knowing what you're going to wear was a hurting feeling, but like I said, God brought us out."
Thomas spends much of his time at First Progressive Baptist Church where he's an Associate Pastor, and it's at that church in Lubbock that he heard one of the most memorable sayings.
"When God brings you to nothing, he's always up to something," he remembered.
Thomas didn't go back to New Orleans because he says God brought him to Lubbock for a reason. It's been three months since Katrina hit, so we asked if that was enough time to figure out why.
"No ma'am," he said, "I'm still praying and asking him to show me and lead me to the way he wants me to go and guide me and whenever he lets me know, I'll let you know!"
The Thomas family wants to thank everyone who's helped all the survivors. He says the people have made them feel at home. However, Thomas says he'll route for the Red Raiders, but his true loyalty lies with Louisiana State University.