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Remembering Katrina & Midday Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Five years ago today, North Texas was readying shelter for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Lynette Norris Wilkinson was opening the doors of her Dallas home to residents from New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward - where she had grown up.

Wilkinson: I had 16 family members and friends who came here seeking refuge after Hurricane Katrina. So we turned our front room into a dormitory. By the grace of God, we made it work out. People were so kind to donate food, and clothing, and meals, and really tried to help.

Wilkinson says Katrina changed the lives not only of those who fled the storm, but those who reached out to help. She details the survival and recovery stories of her family and friends in the book "UNTOLD, the New Orleans 9th Ward You Never Knew. Proceeds go to 9th Ward rebuilding.

Of the more than 65 thousand Katrina evacuees who came to North Texas, an estimated 20 thousand stayed to make Dallas-Fort Worth "home".


Several freight cars derail in Fort Worth area

A freight train derailment in the Fort Worth area left several cars off the tracks and interrupted passenger rail service.

Crews worked Monday to fix the torn-up tracks in the Richland Hills area. The cause of Sunday night's derailment is sought.

The tracks are used by Trinity Railway Express commuter trains on routes linking Fort Worth and Dallas. TRE is co-owned by Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

TRE was not operating Monday in either direction west of the Richland Hills station, but was offering bus service to help passengers connect to other routes.

Texas DPS offers reward for sex offender's arrest

Texas authorities are offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest of a registered sex offender who left a halfway house and cut off a monitoring device he is required to wear.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said Sunday the agency hopes the reward will prompt a reply from someone who knows where 33-year-old Billy Twayne Gibson is.

Authorities say Gibson fled early Saturday from the Wayback House in Dallas. An arrest warrant was issued for failure to comply with civil commitment requirements, a third-degree felony.

Mange says Gibson was released in May after seven years in prison for sexual assault of a child. He has an extensive criminal history.

Report: Lawmaker gave scholarships to relatives

A newspaper report says a Dallas congresswoman violated Congressional Black Caucus Foundation rules by awarding scholarship money to four relatives and a top aide's two children.

The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that Eddie Bernice Johnson denied showing favoritism but later said she "unknowingly" erred with some of the privately funded grants.

Caucus members are given $10,000 annually to award in scholarships and have great leeway in how they pick winners. However, the awards include an anti-nepotism rule and a requirement that winners live or study in the lawmaker's district.

Johnson, a Democrat, told the newspaper she would work with the foundation to "rectify the financial situation." The foundation is not funded by taxpayer money.