All 28 residents, 25 from Alice and three from Premont, are home today after Hurricane Ike teased the Coastal Bend but made landfall in Galveston.
“Our number one goal here is to take care of the people,” said Dean Van Nest, fire chief and emergency city personnel.
The residents arrived at the parking lot on Almond and First streets in Alice by school bus just before midnight Friday.
Of the 28, three were returned by Guardian Emergency Medical Services due to their medical condition and five checked themselves out, city officials said.
In less than 20 minutes, all of the evacuees were either picked up by family members or transported by REAL, Inc. or a city van.
City officials said local entities came together and successfully evacuated the individuals and brought them home safely.
“Guardian has been phenomenal, they were accessible day one, AISD came through with their buses and drivers,” Alice Councilman Shane Valverde said as he helped evacuees leave the bus. “They were the key to the operation and the county was cooperative, it has been a great experience with all the entities.”
Van Nest agreed.
“I guess it shows that government does work for the people,” he said.
Cindy Salinas arrived carrying her bags and belongings with her son, daughter and daughter-in-law.
“It was all right, we had lots of fun,” Salinas said just after coming off the bus.
Rick Guzman jumped off the bus Friday and hugged his wife, Angie, who stayed behind because she had to work.
He had evacuated with three of his children to San Antonio.
“I missed her,” he said. “I’ve never left my family ever.”
Guzman said the San Antonio volunteers and staff were friendly and his two-year-old received a playpen. He said the family received free shuttle passes and they visited the Alamo, Sea World and strolled through the River Walk.
Getting off the bus with assistance and pushing a walker was Dolores Garcia, 76, with her husband, 81-year-old Baldemar Garcia right behind her. The Garcias are from Premont.
“It was nice, everybody was very nice,” she said as they boarded a REAL van to be transported to Premont. “Today (Friday) is my birthday, I’m glad to be here.”
City Manager City Manager Ray De Los Santos said the Ike scare and the city’s response was a success.
“I think we made it, we didn’t lose anybody and no body got hurt,” De Los Santos said Friday night. “We did well (last) week…it was because within the city we had a strong team who gave 100 percent at a moment’s notice and they did it with a smile.”