by Julie Montanaro
August 29, 7:15pm
The influx of Katrina evacuees had a big impact on people in our area too. They were face to face with folks who'd lost everything, and people stepped forward by the thousands to try to help.
Sure, the Tallahassee area had seen its share of evacuees before, but nothing like this. Red Cross shelters stayed open longer than ever before, two weeks, and the Red Cross paid for motel rooms for evacuees for months after that.
Nearly 1,700 families sought help in Tallahassee in the days and weeks after Katrina and the Red Cross paid out more than a million dollars for food, clothing and shelter.
"There have only been two times in my career with the Red Cross that I've really had that overwhelming experience," said Chris Floyd, head of the Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross. "One of them was the 9/11 experience I had in New York for a month. The other was Hurricane Katrina, to see everything I've planned for and we've worked for here come together and truly work," he said, "was very rewarding."
Churches and businesses offered free suppers, people stepped forward with donations of furniture, clothes and even a spare house. Many of the evacuees who stayed say they did so because of that hospitality and their prospects of finding a job.