Evacuees' Tales, Attitudes Differ

Tracy Smith evacuee piece CBS/The Early Show

Those forced to flee their homes ahead of Hurricane Katrina face an uncertain future, not knowing when they'll be allowed to return, or what they'll find when they get there.

The Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith spotted Jim Stoddard stranded at a gas station in Gramercy, La.

"All the modern conveniences of home," he kidded, referring to his RV.

For at least the next couple of days, Smith says, that RV is as close to home as Stoddard and his family can get.

He refers to it as "an HEV: Hurricane Escape Vehicle."

Like so many other Louisiana residents this weekend, Stoddard and his family couldn't get out of town fast enough.

Asked if it was hard to leave, Stoddard replied, "No, I was going to have a little problem breathing" in the high waters he expected to sweep through his house.

Now he wants to get back, if there's something to get back to. "I just want to go home and see what we got left," he says.

But when Stoddard tried to see for himself, he was stopped by a police roadblock. So he joined hundreds of other evacuees, car-camping in a gas station parking lot.

Not everyone is as content as Stoddard, Smith notes.

"What are we s'posed to do? There is nowhere else to go!" one angry evacuee asked police at a roadblock.

But they can find food and supplies at the gas station. It's the only open store for miles, Smith notes. A clerk says no one anticipated it.

Some people in the nearest parish were allowed to go home late Monday.

But not Stoddard. Police say it'll be four or five days before he can get back.

"When you close your eyes," Smith asked Stoddard, "how do you see your home?"

"Like I left it," Stoddard answered. "Gotta be positive. Hope for the best. Expect the worst."
  • Brian Dakss

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