Evacuees Bused to Mega-Shelter - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Evacuees Bused to Mega-Shelter

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RAPIDES PARISH, La. - The line of buses was a mile long early Thursday morning, as evacuees flooded into Rapides Parish away from the floods that are threatening their homes in South Louisiana.

Many are now calling the LSU AGCenter mega-shelter their temporary home, since so many of them, have now lost their own.

News Channel Five's Brooke Buford spent the morning with the evacuees to hear their stories from the storm.

Story after story of survival

"Water just came gushing so fast our heads were spinning," said Jolie Nichols, an evacuee from LaPlace.

Evacuees rolled into Rapides Parish early Thursday morning, with just the clothes on their backs and their stories of the terrifying moments they'd been through just hours before.

We had to hike through water knee high all the way until a boat came and got us," said Nichols. "Then the boat took us to the church where buses picked us up."

Thousands of evacuees from South Louisiana piled into buses and headed to the LSU AGCenter for shelter from the storm.

"I ended up on this bus because, we flooded," said Paul Catalinotto, another evacuee from LaPlace. "The water rose so fast. At 10 o'clock, I cleaned my drains in front of my house. And in four hours, I had water in my house."

Many of the evacuees came from St. John Parish. They say the water came up so fast -- the could barely make it to safety.

"I already know my house is gone," said Denise Vrumfield, another evacuee. "It's been really hectic to leave your house and come here. We lost a lot. It's just a lot going on right now. I just want to tell my mama we're in Alexandria and we love you."

There were just as many volunteers looking to help, as there were evacuees needing it. Phyllis Kennison brought her bus from Orlando, Florida to assist with the rescue mission.

"Very sad," she said. "Very, very sad. I feel bad for all of them. I wish I could take them all home, but I can't."

And as the buses kept coming, space at the 2,500 person shelter started to get crowded.

Around 5 a.m., workers were starting to realize that the Alexandria shelter was getting close to full capacity. So, buses were being directed to Shreveport.

Shelter workers tell us they'll continue helping through the storm until the evacuees can safely go home. They hope to do that as quickly as possible, but there's no telling when. So until then, this will be their temporary home.

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