Jackson Helps Family Escape Hurricane Rita

by Jeff Tzucker
by Conrad Brunner

Sept. 27, 2005

Add Stephen Jackson to the list of Pacers affected by the hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast.

Jackson's hometown of Port Arthur, Tex., was hammered by Hurricane Rita, the second major storm to come ashore in recent weeks. Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts, forced Jonathan Bender and Danny Granger to evacuate their homes and families.

Like Bender and Granger, Jackson's family lost property, but no lives.


"We got hit pretty bad. Our town is torn up," Jackson said Tuesday before the Pacers Foundation Golf Outing at Brickyard Crossing. "But I was able to send two private planes home to get my family up here and they're still here now. You can't replace them. You can replace the houses. It's flooded and all that but their lives are more important to me. We can rebuild that stuff. It's material."

Jackson said roughly 30 family members are now staying at his Indianapolis home. They originally intended to evacuate to his Atlanta home by driving but got stuck in the massive traffic jam of evacuees and were in danger of running out of gas.

"I told them to drive to the nearest airport," he said. "It was in Jasper, Tex., and I was able to fly them out from there."

Port Arthur, a town of with a population of routhly 60,000, was 10 miles northeast of the eye of the storm when it came ashore early Saturday morning. All basic services were wiped out. Until it is safe to return, Jackson's family members will remain in Indianapolis.

"It's good," he said. "It's like a mini-family reunion. I'm eating some good home-cooked food and my family's there, so it's not bad at all."