First News @ 5 -- Texoma Shelter Woes

9-20-05 - Shelters here in Texoma remain packed with Katrina evacuees and the needs and challenges change everyday.

Three weeks after New Orleans' nightmare, evacuees still number in the hundreds in north Texas, but the Red Cross shelter in Gainesville is now looking at the long term situation. They find that they are in desperate need of funds.

Going on three weeks in the Gainesville shelter, Sonia Dixon is part teacher and part babysitter. She came by bus with more than 100 others, and nearly three weeks after they arrived, 59 people still call the shelter home.

Many of them work in the community while others spend the day watching TV and waiting for word from home. By October 1st, the Red Cross along with Cooke County emergency management officials hope everyone in this shelter will be moved out to temporary housing. Many of the evacuees, like Dixon, say they plan to stay in Gainesville.

"Everyone in this community has been wonderful," Dixon said. "They've opened up their homes to us."

"FEMA has promised reimbursement of our cost," Ray Fletcher of Cooke County Emergency Management said. "The timeliness of that reimbursement is a big issue right now."

The county will foot the bill for the temporary housing along with medical bills for the evacuees. At an estimated cost of $300,000, they hope they will be reimbursed by FEMA sooner rather than later.

At least one Gainesville police officer is on duty at all times, but the shelter hasn't been without trouble. There have been three arrests for drugs, disorderly conduct and prostitution.