Local Shelter Prepares for Rita Evacuees

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

September 24, 2005
As Hurricane Rita slammed through the gulf early Saturday morning, a local church was finishing up preparations for evacuees. United Methodist Church is preparing to serve meals for 100 people this weekend. News 12 is on your side to show you how churches are taking care of evacuees right here in our area.

While Red Cross volunteers wait for evacuees, Ray Burnette is busy in the kitchen cooking for 100.

“Preparing lunch and dinner for evacuees. Lunch is going to be baked chicken, green beans, corn, rolls and chocolate cake,” Burnette said.

Ray, a construction worker by day, is using his culinary skills for a good cause.

“I went to school to be an executive chef,” Burnette said.

The church expected anywhere from 50-100 people to show up at their shelter. Right now they only have seven. So like any kitchen, Ray had to be ready for unexpected changes.

“Prepared it for 100, but I scaled it down,” Burnette said.

“Our goal is to get them back home or in a hotel ASAP, we expect that to happen maybe tomorrow so we’ll stay open at least another night,” said Ron Schear, church volunteer.

Despite the low turnout, Ray says you have to be prepared.

“Gotta have food on site just in case more come in,” Burnette said.

“You get ready in case they show up, and if they don’t, they don’t,” Schear said.

Either way, the church sees this as an opportunity to learn from.

“That’s probably a good thing this is the first time we opened up a shelter and we’re looking at it as a training experience,” Schear said.

One that Ray and the other volunteers hope they’ll never have to prepare for again.

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