This is an incredible story from HISD:
HISD school buses rolled through the waterlogged streets of New Orleans on Sunday morning September 4, rescuing hundreds who have endured the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Many of those rescued were wheelchair-bound residents who had been trapped by the high water.
More than 300 Houston Independent School District bus drivers, police, and support personnel volunteered to give up their Labor Day weekend to go to the New Orleans area to help in the rescue effort. Departing from Houston between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. Saturday, they drove 142 HISD school buses to New Orleans overnight after an emergency appeal from Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
HISD Police who accompanied the school buses to provide security reported that scores of people were rescued who were still trying to get out of their neighborhoods in and around New Orleans. The buses arrived in New Orleans at approximately 5:00 a.m.
“We’re incredibly proud of our school-bus drivers and our police officers who volunteered to go into that devastated area to help,” said HISD Superintendent of Schools Abelardo Saavedra, who gave Saturday night’s order to send the buses with the volunteer drivers. “These wonderful people didn’t hesitate for a moment to give up their Labor Day weekend because they wanted to do something to help the victims. God bless them for what they have done.”
By 9:00 p.m. Saturday, 142 buses had rolled from all four HISD bus terminals and were on their way to Louisiana, accompanied by HISD Police cars, bus-repair trucks and mechanics, and fuel procurement officials.
HISD’s General Manager of Transportation Services Bonnie Russell said the school district decided to send a number of buses with wheelchair lifts because of news reports from the New Orleans area showing many wheelchair-bound individuals struggling to board regular buses. District officials reported Sunday morning that several buses, filled with wheelchair-bound survivors, were on their way to safety.
Russell reported that one large group of HISD buses was at a docks facility in New Orleans loading survivors from boats and taking them to the New Orleans airport to be flown out of the area.
It is estimated that the HISD school buses will evacuate more than 6,400 hurricane survivors. Each bus will carry about 48 individuals to places to be determined.
Wow. Bravo to HISD and its wonderful employees.
UPDATE: HISD has added an update with this information:
The HISD buses also were used to take military troops from a nearby airfield into five parishes in the New Orleans area.