One Year Later, Hurricane Harvey Evacuees Recall Finding Shelter at Church

Hurricanes have forced Elizabeth Leija and her family to flee the Gulf Coast three times since 2005, but she says a Kilgore church has become their second home from the storms.

Leija and her children were among hundreds of Hurricane Harvey evacuees who were sheltered at Forest Home Baptist Church, where her stepfather is among the congregation.

“We felt more like we were at home. They treated us very good,” Leija said Friday, a year after Harvey hit the Texas coast.

Leija said she knew to call the Kilgore church as Harvey approached because it was where she fled hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a teenager in 2005.

“We couldn’t remember the name of the church, and we Googled it up,” she said Friday from her home in Freeport. “We’re not Baptist. We’re Catholic, and we’re very grateful because it (speaks) great of them. For us, the way they treated us was more like family, and we really appreciated it.”

Despite the warm accommodations for her large family, Leija grew eager to return to Freeport and see what damage Harvey might have done to her home just miles from the beach.

“You want to be at home, but other than that, the (church) ladies were very wonderful,” she said. “You just miss home.”

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SOURCE: Jimmy Daniell Isaac
Longview News-Journal