Shelter life behind them,  Evacuees eager to get on with life  

By Krystal Smith, American Red Cross

DALLAS, Texas – It’s moving day for Sherrie Miles and her two children, and emotions are running high.

It’s been nearly a month since Sherrie and her family evacuated Port Arthur to escape rising flood waters. While grateful they have had a safe place to stay, and food, health and emotional support from the American Red Cross, the prospect of beginning to rebuild life in the privace of their own two-bedroom apartment is exciting.

“It’s hard to make me cry, because I’m a person who builds my emotions on the inside,” Sherrie said. Then, after a celebratory hug from another evacuee, Sherrie began to cry. Sherrie, Ruth and Kids Photo

“He was like, ‘I don’t want you messing up your mascara!’ I said, ‘Who cares about mascara! We both just got our apartments at the same time’!”

Sherrie’s mother, Ruth, from Grove, Texas, reflected on one positive of the family’s shelter experience. “Most of all (this has) given me more time to spend with my daughter,” she said.

“She was always working all the time and (it’s enabled me to) spend more time with them too,” she said, pointing to her grandchildren, five-year-old Nylah and Zatakyyus, age 3.

Nonetheless, she’s eager to return home to her husband in Grove. “I’ll help her get into her apartment and then, I’m gone,” Ruth said with excitement.

Although their home was flooded, Ruth and her husband’s landlord is letting them move into a second floor space until renovations are finished downstairs. She knows the journey will be long but is ready to get back to help rebuild their lives.

As for Sherrie, she looks forward to a fresh start.

She is just one of some 400,000 Texas households that have received financial assistance from the Red Cross to help with immediate disaster-related expenses.

“I have to think smart, and be smart about the situation,” she said. “This is a landmark right here; I can’t go back. If I go back, there’s nothing to go back to.

“I’m about to make the best of Dallas! I want to go out and get more education, and I want to succeed,” she said. In Port Arthur, Sherrie worked as a nurse assistant; now she has her sights set on earning a registered nursing degree.

In the short term, she is focused on first steps. She predicted the first thing she’d do when they arrive at their new apartment is “kiss the floor and be thankful that I’m not kissing the sidewalk or the grass.”

For her part, Ruth credits the Red Cross for helping her family get through the aftermath of the historic storm.

“Shout out to the Red Cross crew, because they really have been supportive of all of us. I mean, they treated us just like we were family.”


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