Tulsa bus line helps evacuees get from New Orleans to Houston

Tuesday, September 6th 2005, 6:03 am
By: News On 6

A bus driver from Broken Arrow spent several days last week driving hurricane refugees out of New Orleans, to Texas. FEMA activated his Pacesetter Coach Line bus to move people to safer areas.

News on 6 Reporter Emory Bryan says David Crowder has a few pictures to remember the last week, not that he could ever forget helping evacuate New Orleans. "They told us when we left they didn't know how long we were going to be there, or what we were going to get into."

Crowder drove one of the one thousand buses sent by the government to evacuate the city. He arrived at the Superdome Thursday afternoon. "What we were going to get were homeless people, these were the people who got into the superdome and they were not in good shape."

Crowder says some were sick and all of them were filthy. Many were separated from family and upset, especially after he drove them out of town. "When we left New Orleans, they had not seen the damage, they didn't know what it was like, they would say, they would just scream.” Crowder was alone on the bus, and says he was frightened at first, but the evacuees put him at ease. "When they actually got on the bus, they were kind of relieved, but they were real nice, they would hug us, because they were glad we were there to get them out of there."

Even though some of the passengers were only wearing underwear - the only time they stopped - at a Wal-Mart, the bus was surrounded by police. "It turns out all these small towns were just overwhelmed with these people and they thought we were letting them off and they made us put them back on the bus, they told us in no uncertain terms to put them back on the bus."

Once the buses arrived in Houston, there were so many people; it took 12 hours to get them unloaded.

The two Pacesetter Coach Line buses from Tulsa and the bus drivers arrived back in Tulsa on Saturday.