Racist Rednecks Greet Rita Evacuees
by Parker, Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 05:30:19 AM EDT
He couldn't get off the bus to buy food. The drivers were exhausted. And he couldn't go to the bathroom.
"Just had to wait," he said. "I tried to drink as little as I could, but I'm a diabetic. I need a lot of fluids."
Driver Toni Soularie, 49, said she nearly had a violent confrontation when she pulled into a rest area.
"This officer said he was going to shoot me if I didn't get back on the bus," she said. "At that point I was prepared to let him shoot me. I had this invalid on the bus who was already embarrassed because she urinated all over herself. And I was not going to let her embarrass herself again. We just got off.
"But the officer stayed right there with me - made sure we were going to get back on."
Tela Mange, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety said she was unaware of anybody drawing guns.
"I have not heard about that," she said. "At one point several people got off. One refused to get back on, but we helped her get back on."
Drivers said they carried some food and water with them, but it was quickly exhausted, and for two days, they had almost no other way of getting provisions to their fellow evacuees. What help they did receive was meager.
"In Lufkin they actually gave us hot water," said Cori Williams, Soularie's son, who also is a driver for BISD. "And this is our home state. We shouldn't have to drive all over creation to find some place to sleep."
"When we tried to exit there, cars would actually back up on the ramps and force us to get back on the freeway," Cassandra Francis, a 46-year-old BISD driver, said.
Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said he didn't know much about the convoy, but echoed DPS's concerns about the need to press on.
"There were 10,000 people moving north at the same time," he said. "If they stopped, everybody might want to get off, and that would create even more delays."
By the time the vehicles got to Tyler, winds and rain were lashing them. The convoy arrived in Canton, the only place Mange said could take them in, about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The buses themselves remain there and Soularie, Francis and Williams, as well as most of the other drivers who accompanied them on the trip, are stranded. They say they don't know when they're going back and haven't heard much news from home, other than the fact that Beaumont is a mess. When they do return, it'll probably be by a different route.
"I don't ever want to go back to some of those towns," Francis' 70-year-old father, Billy Bossette, said.
Perhaps, Nagin knew what he was doing not send NOLA evacuees out into the boondocks...
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