The doors of the Expo Inn in Lufkin may look nothing like the pearly gates you imagine, but guests say what's inside these doors is nothing less than a God-send. "It is definitely an answer to a prayer," Phyllis Gripp said.
Tired, weary and fearing the worst, Phyllis and her family almost lost hope as they made the nearly 600 mile trek back to their home in hurricane ravaged Lake Jackson. "I can't imagine. We could have been sleeping on the side of the road," said Phyllis.
Dressed in ordinary clothes and working harder than the winds of Hurricane Ike, Catheryn Hall became the calm after the storm.
"There's still a lot of people that are still needing a place to stay. During the night especially, they're traveling. Some of them went as far as Arkansas and Oklahoma and now they're trying to get back, and so they're traveling. They know they can't make it to Houston so they're just needing a place to stay until daylight so they can finish the trip," said Catheryn Hall.
Right now, more than 200 evacuees are seeking shelter at Lufkin's Expo Inn. Every room is full, but that doesn't stop Catheryn from providing shelter from the storm. "We've set up mattresses in the banquet room and just letting people come in and have a place to get out of the weather. At least they have a place to sleep, we've provided them a place to take a shower and we're feeding them," she said.
From snack packs for the little ones, to a warm cup of coffee mom and dad, it's a free gesture to those just needing to rest their worries before seeing first-hand what Ike left behind. "We're very fortunate compared to these people. They've lost everything they own. They lost their homes, and they just have no place to go. You know we're blessed that maybe we're without electricity. This hotel got its electricity. We need to help the ones that aren't as fortunate as us," said Hall.
"She's an angel. She's our guardian angel," Phyllis said.
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