Taking refuge in the Astrodome
Newschannel 5 | September 1, 2005
HOUSTON -- NEWSCHANNEL 5 crews were in Houston as some desperate refugees arrive in a stolen bus.
HOUSTON -- Thousands of refugees of Hurricane Katrina were transported to the Astrodome in Houston this week. In an extreme act of looting, one group actually stole a bus to escape ravaged areas in Louisiana.
About 100 people packed into the stolen bus. They were the first to enter the Houston Astrodome, but they weren't exactly welcomed.
The big yellow school bus wasn't expected or approved to pass through the stadium's gates. Randy Nathan, who was on the bus, said they were desperate to get out of town.
"If it werent for him right there," he said, "we'd still be in New Orleans underwater. He got the bus for us."
Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control.
"I just took the bus and drove all the way here...seven hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus."
The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there.
"I t's better than being in New Orleans," said fellow passenger Albert McClaud, "we want to be somewhere where we're safe."
During a long and impatient delay, children popped their heads out of bus windows and mothers clutched their babies.
One 8-day-old infant spent the first days of his life surrounded by chaos. He's one of the many who are homeless and hungry.
Authorities eventually allowed the renegade passengers inside the dome. But the 18-year-old who ensured their safety could find himself in a world of trouble for stealing the school bus.
"I dont care if I get blamed for it ," Gibson said, "as long as I saved my people."
Sixty legally chartered buses were expected to arrive in Houston throughout the night. Thousands of people will be calling the Astrodome "home," at least for now.