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North Texas Efforts To Help Gulf Coast Evacuees Change During COVID-19 Pandemic

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Some Gulf Coast residents are making their way to North Texas as mandatory hurricane evacuation orders are in effect for many areas.

The city of Mesquite is stepping up local efforts to help evacuees with lodging and food.

Mesquite has offered shelter during similar circumstances in the past, but because of COVID-19 and social distancing, they are offering hotel accommodations to those escaping Hurricane Laura.

Beaumont resident Mike Larry made the nearly 300 mile drive from his home to Mesquite. "It's supposed to be pretty bad man. You know I'm glad we got out of there and everything," he said.

Larry, and others like him who drove ahead of the storm, told CBS 11 News they're glad they were given the warnings and the mandate to evacuate.

It didn't take much for Tammy Washington to leave -- she is a Hurricane Katrina survivor who had to be rescued by helicopter and is still re-building from Hurricane Harvey.

The order to evacuate is also sending thousands of people — by bus — inland, to areas like San Antonio, Austin and to North Texas. Buses were rolling in all morning Wednesday and workers are providing those on board with food and water, before heading to their drop-off locations.

People who spoke with CBS 11 say they are grateful for the services, especially as they continue to deal with the financial strain of COVID-19.

"The most rewarding thing is to be able to get out and we have our families and we have our lives, and try to encourage each other during these most trying times," said Washington.

The Director of Communications for the City of Mesquite said they are focused on the fulfilling the needs of evacuees. City efforts have already secured two-dozen hotel rooms for those who arrived Tuesday night and officials are in the process of getting more rooms for those in need.

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