Tour of Dallas’ Hurricane Katrina Evacuee Facilities

Today I visited Reunion Arena and the Dallas Convention Center, the two Dallas sites where Hurricane Katrina evacuees are being housed. After seeing other shelters being criticized in the news, I wanted to make sure that our guests from Louisiana were being well taken care of.

I have to say, I could not be more proud of our city right now. Our City Manager Mary Suhm and her staff have done an incredible job in short order, housing over 14,000 Louisiana residents. The Red Cross is running the facilities, and they, too, have imposed order onto a situation that could be very chaotic.

The federal government’s FEMA operations will begin in our city on Tuesday.

I toured the Reunion Arena and Convention Center evacuee facilities with Louisiana’s Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, his wife Cheryl, and Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Phillip Jones.

The Landrieus have been touring shelter sites around Texas and Louisiana to reach out to evacuees. They were very appreciative of the help Dallas has given.

It was clear that evacuees were happy to see a familiar face in the Lt. Governor. It was also apparent that the massive scale of this disaster has touched every corner of Louisiana. While we were at the Convention Center visiting evacuees, the Lt. Govenor ran into the former secretary of his father, Moon Landrieu, who has served as New Orleans’ mayor, among other elected positions. She will return home when it is safe to do so.

A few moments later, Mr. Landrieu’s bodyguard — a Louisiana State Trooper — found two of his cousins who evacuated Louisiana to the Dallas Convention Center. Luckily, they were all okay.

Witnessing in person the scale of the tragedy and visiting with some of the thousands of evacuees being housed in City of Dallas facilities made me proud of our response and our hospitality. Being a good neighbor in a time of crisis is a responsibility that we in Dallas — and the state of Texas — bear with grace and compassion. I have no doubt that if the roles were reversed, our good friends from Louisiana would do the same.

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