Many Louisiana Evacuees Plan to Stay in Houston

A recent survey of the thousands of people from Louisiana who evacuated to Houston during and after the recent hurricanes turned up some surprising findings. The survey shows that many of the evacuees plan to stay in Houston.

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United Way spokesman Jeff Stys says this country has never had a sudden migration as big as the one that happened this summer, and their policies and procedures manuals were of no help. Stys says they had to start from scratch by commissioning an outside survey of the evacuees to get a handle on their needs so they can figure out how to serve them. He says they learned a lot that was useful, but their biggest surprise was learning that, generally, the evacuees didn't fit the stereotype that was portrayed in much of the media reporting.

Stys says the survey showed it's more important than ever to maintain the social service safety net. People struggling to rebuild their lives need food, clothing, shelter and financial help, and for the United Way, it showed the need for intensive case management, job training and placement, and resiliency counseling to minimize the impact of the trauma and grief. It also revealed that nearly half those who fled Hurricane Katrina, and a quarter of those who fled Hurricane Rita, plan to stay in Houston.

Stys says Louisiana's loss is Houston's gain, and it's worth remembering that just about everyone in Houston came here from somewhere else.

Stys says this new information will help the United Way be proactive instead of reactive in helping Houston's newest citizens make new homes for themselves.