RVers Flee Katrina, Camp at Fair Grounds
Recreational vehicles jammed the Louisiana State Fair Grounds in Shreveport as Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast Monday (Aug. 29), according to a report in the Shreveport Tribune.
Many of the RVers, including Bobby and Betty Vega, were making calls to check on the status of their homes after the storm passed.
“My house is still there,” Bobby Vega said. “Trees are down, (telephone) poles are down, and our fence is beaten up, but there’s no water damage. So, we’re blessed right now.”
The Vega home in Metairie is nestled right between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
“We were all west of the eye,” he added. “We dodged a bullet.”
Both Vegas have lived in Metairie for about 50 years, but this is just the second time they’ve packed up their RV because of a hurricane. On Sunday they joined others with their campers on the fairgrounds, which has been serving as a shelter for about 50 RVs bringing more than 200 people fleeing Hurricane Katrina.
“We were the first ones in,” Bobby Vega said.
Families who wanted to bring more personal belongings than cars could carry, and who didn’t want to bother with hotels while leaving their southern Louisiana homes, drove their RVs north.
And once they filled the KOA campgrounds in the area, they established themselves at the fairgrounds for $15 a night, State Fair President and General Manager Sam Giordano said.
“We’re not publicized as a campground, but we’re not turning anyone away,” he said.
The fairgrounds can supply electricity, water and sewage disposal for 500 vehicles, and water and electricity for an additional 1,000 vehicles, Giordano added.
After 14 years on the job, Giordano said he expects this to happen come hurricane season. Families can also use the zoo facilities on the grounds for their pets, he added.
“People are entertaining themselves in Shreveport,” he said. “We should get some more fair customers from the south.”
Rhonda Couture along with her nephew, 11-year-old Brandon Couture, were part of a convoy of seven motorhomes carrying 30 people to Baton Rouge and then Shreveport.
“It’s hard to take things of value, so you don’t bring much,” Rhonda Couture said. “Your lives are more important than material things you can replace.”