Evacuees from Hurricane Harvey gathered at the Faulkner Park Police Substation in Tyler Wednesday Aug. 30, where the City of Tyler and Tyler police hosted a transitional hub.
FEMA representatives arrived from Dallas to register evacuees.
Once registered, evacuees were given armbands, and allowed to receive resources like compensation for hotel costs.
They were also eligible for two meals a day at the Salvation Army and directed toward Colonial Hills Baptist Church, where they were given toiletries and other goods.
Evacuees were also given a 30-day hotel stays while rooms are still available. Currently, Tyler hotels are at nearly 80 percent capacity according to the City, with nearly 1,800 evacuees. Evacuees who were not staying with family in Tyler were given information about shelters in Dallas that are equipped for large-scale disasters.
Tyler police welcomed evacuees warmly, handing out blankets and stuffed animals for children.
“We know this is traumatic for them,” said Public Information Officer Don Martin. “The kids may not fully understand what's going on so we’re giving children care bear stuffed animals. We're trying to make it home for them."
Maria Cervantez’s daughter was one such child who held tightly to her new stuffed animal. Their family evacuated Rockport after the city got hammered by the hurricane.
They weathered the first two nights of the storm but as it got worse, they decided to leave Sunday night.
Cervantez’s two oldest boys stayed behind to help other people and while she said they are safe, they are reporting heavy damage.
"In one of the rooms, the sheet rock fell down and some of the floors buckled,” Cervantez said. “One of the neighbors said they had four feet of water and their cars were completely submerged."
Other families like the Smiths left Brazoria County due to a mandatory evacuation after the Brazos river and San Bernard river began to swell.
They said people in Tyler have gone out of their way to show them kindness while they anxiously wait to find out if their home is still intact.
“We're just kind of waiting and we weren’t able to have my son’s birthday party – today’s his birthday,” Megan Smith said. “We're getting homesick. We don’t know when we're going home. The judge says we have to stay out of Brazoria County until he says it’s time to come home.”
Smith said the judge expects it will be another 5 days before the river will crest and only then will they know if their house flooded.
The transitional hub was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but representatives with the City of Tyler said it will remain open on a day-to-day basis.
Tyler police asked the public for blankets, coloring books and crayons to help keep children busy during the waiting process. Those donations can be brought to the Faulkner Park Police Substation in Tyler.
Evacuees with internet access can register with FEMA online. For a complete list of area resources, those seeking assistance are encouraged to call 211.