Hurricane Katrina: Town Hall

Dr. Phil wanted to hear from the Hurricane Katrina survivors who lost everything and are living inside shelters at the Houston Astrodome. He sat down with a number of the evacuees and held a town hall meeting.

One emotional woman says, "I just want to let you know that we love you and thank you so much for coming to see about our families."

Another tells Dr. Phil, "I haven't seen my husband since Saturday, and I don't know where he's at."

Dr. Phil comforts the victims. "I want to tell you that people know what's going on. America has not forgotten for one second what's going on in y'alls week," he stresses.

One frustrated man hasn't seen his children in a week. "All the politicians got out, but what about us?" he asks. "They left us. So that means they don't care about us."

"How many of you have family members that you just don't know where they are?" Dr. Phil asks. He is astonished when the majority of the room raises their hands. "This is a situation that is the worst national disaster in the history of our country. It's going to take a long time for New Orleans to get back on their feet. I did want to tell you that this isn't the end of the road. People do care."

Lisa, an evacuee who attended the meeting, worries about her missing family members. "I'm looking for three of my children. My mom, my dad, my sisters, my brothers, my fiancé. I have no foundation. No roots," she says in disbelief. "I cannot believe I'm in Houston, Texas and my house is gone! And my children are gone, swept away."

"We've been gathering information, and we have a really good lead on your husband and children. We may be able to locate them right now," Dr. Phil assures her. "I feel good enough about it to tell you that I'm leaving here right now and going to Dallas … I'm happy to take you and your three children, and you can go with me to Dallas and we'll see if we can connect you."

Lisa is overwhelmed. "I'm excited," she says emotionally. "This is the best news I've had all week."

In the car ride to his jet, Dr. Phil says, "I found this to be an amazingly humbling experience. It's so easy to get caught up in the momentum of our own lives, and then you find out these people are so appreciative and so giving to one another when all they have is a two by six cot on an arena floor. The lesson in human spirit is a wake-up call for yours truly."

Meanwhile, Charles, Lisa's fiancé, doesn't know that his wife-to-be has been located. They were separated during the evacuation, and he thought his family would end up at the Superdome. "Upon reaching the Superdome, I was hoping and wishing that my family would be there waiting for me. I walked the Superdome for five days and haven't found them yet," he says, holding their 7-month-old baby. "Right now, I am living in a shelter at the First Christian Church of Tyler, Texas. I don't know if they're in Houston, Baton Rouge, or here in Dallas. But with the help of Dr. Phil, I will surely find them."

 

Based on leads, Dr. Phil locates Charles at the shelter. "How does it feel to not know where your wife and children are?" he asks.

Charles replies, "It's a horrible feeling knowing that my son and my daughters are there. And you've got guys running around there, raping. There even was a couple of killings going on in the Superdome."

"What's it going to mean to you to feel those little arms around your neck again?"

"Oh, it will mean the world to me Dr. Phil!"

"You believe that somehow, some way, you're going to find them? You haven't given up hope?"

When Charles says that he hasn't given up, Dr. Phil turns him around and reunites him with Lisa and their children. The tearful family embraces.

Addressing Charles, Dr. Phil says, "Your life pattern, everything, is disrupted in New Orleans. You said you want to make a life in Texas. We have some wonderful, wonderful friends in Houston, Jim and Linda McIngvale, and they want to make a gift to y'all of a new home, a condominium in Houston."

 

As the family expresses delight, Dr. Phil has another surprise for them. "Because we know that you can't be landlocked like you have been, they also want to make a gift to you of a car. So you have the ability to get around." Jim McIngvale owns a business, and wants to give Charles a job right away, so he can take care of his family

Crying, Charles says, "That's wonderful. I want to thank Dr. Phil for making this all possible. God bless you."

 

Dr. Phil reflects on his amazing day in Houston. "It's humbling. It's inspiring. We've tried to touch as many lives as we possibly can. You come away with a good, good feeling. Tired, but a good tired," he says.