BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) on Monday returned the last busloads of citizens from a hurricane shelter back to their home parishes, winding down Louisiana’s first-ever bus-assisted evacuations.
Coach buses and para-transit buses contracted by DOTD safely evacuated approximately 27,000 people to shelters and returned them to their home parishes once the threats from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike were gone. DOTD developed the bus-assisted evacuation plan after Hurricane Katrina revealed the vast number of citizens who have no means of transportation to escape a storm.
“The safety of our citizens was Gov. Bobby Jindal’s main concern as soon as Gustav posed a threat,” DOTD Secretary William D. Ankner said. “I am pleased DOTD – working with the National Guard, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Education, and the local parishes – was able to safely evacuate and return our citizens who were in need of transportation. The governor put out the call to evacuate, and the people responded.”
The last coaches to return people to their home parishes rolled into the parking lot of the Lake Charles Civic Center on Monday morning. As in other parishes, local buses then took the citizens back to their homes.
Late Monday, a handful of citizens in medical special needs shelters were preparing to return home.
According to the unofficial figures, 1,571 people from Calcasieu and Vermilion parishes boarded the coaches for state-run shelters in Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport in preparation for Hurricane Ike. For Hurricane Gustav, about 11,000 people from several parishes boarded the coaches and para-transits for shelters in Alexandria, Bastrop, Baton Rouge, Monroe and Shreveport, and another 15,000 used the coaches and para-transits to go to shelters in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.