Evacuee Volunteers Recognized for Efforts

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Texas A&M took time out to thank local volunteers during Hurricane's Katrina and Rita. Monday evening's event was a time to reflect on the past while keeping in mind another hurricane season is upon us.

For evacuees turned local residents, Monday night's event was a chance to say thank you.

"You couldn't find anybody nicer than the people that came and saw about us," said evacuee Mildred Drew. "I said we've met up with some nice people."

"We really wanted to take the time out, if you will, and recognize all of that effort," said Texas A&M University President Robert Gates.

So on the floor of Reed Arena, where hundreds called home after Katrina and Rita, time was taken to thank the volunteers in those efforts.

Unfortunately, another hurricane season is here. Texas A&M set a precedent with its handling of evacuees, and would likely be home to more were another storm to hit. An after action report just hit the desk of Gates Monday, and is due to be reviewed by senior officials soon, though the school is largely happy with how things went last year, especially considering how quickly decisions had to be made.

Volunteer Jordan Smith said he was amazed at how much they provided each evacuee, but also thinks there's room for improvement.

"Expanding our capacity and being able to more efficiently handle the needs of the specials needs people such as the elderly and sick," said Smith.

"We've seen some things that we could do better," Gates said. "We've seen some areas where the decisions are pretty much made, that this is what we'll do if we have to go a certain direction. So I think we're ready."

Of course, no one wants to see a repeat of last year, though A&M says it's willing to help again.

In all, some 12-hundred people from the Gulf Coast were house at Reed Arena after Rita and Katrina.