It's not just relief workers headed into the damage zone, our fellow Raycom TV stations in Texas have called upon NewsChannel 11 for help. So we sent our own Christy Moreland, Justin Michaels and chief photographer Ruben Villarreal.
In the first of several reports from Hurricane Ike's damage and evacuation zone, in this case Lufkin, here is NewsChannel 11's Justin Michaels with the story of a good Samaritan answering one Texas family's prayers.
When most people go to a hotel they stay in a nice comfortable room. NewsChannel 11's Justin Michaels found it was a different story for one praying family that found an answer in a motel lobby.
"We decided to leave on Wednesday and we packed up and left Wednesday afternoon around three o'clock," said Phyllis Gripp.
Hurricane Ike's path toward Texas prompted Phyllis Gripp and her family to flee their home in Lake Jackson, Texas. "We drove straight to Mississippi. We have family in central Mississippi so we went there to stay a few days," said Phyllis, who had to leave her husband and other family members to brave the storm.
After Ike passed through and the danger subsided, it was time to head home. "We made it to Lufkin, here to the Expo Inn and are waiting to go back to Lake Jackson tomorrow," said Gripp.
But when they got to Lufkin, motel after motel, including the Expo Inn, told them there was no room available. "The young lady at the desk asked us where we were from and we told her and she said she had this room set up for workers that were coming in but that we could use some of the mattresses for the night," said Gripp.
A prayer answered - room at Lufkin's Expo Inn for Phyllis and her family to safely stay for the night, and for free. "I can't imagine. We could have been sleeping on the side of the road. There's curfews back at home, I don't know how far up the curfews go. And that would have been our next step just sleeping in our cars until we could go through," said Gripp.
Now for some, that would probably have been just fine, a little uncomfortable, but fine nonetheless. But, there's a twist. Jonathon Wesley, or Bubba for short, is travelling with them. He's a little guy, just more than a year old, and sleeping in a car on the side of the road just wasn't an option. So, the staff at the Expo Inn came through for a family not even from Lufkin. "Just knowing everybody's safe and all, the rest of it we can work out," said Gripp.
The Gripp family does plan on leaving the Expo Inn Monday to make their way from Lufkin back to Lake Jackson.
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