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Hindu Temple Shelters Hurricane Ike Evacuees

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“We’ve done it before and we will do it again” - Prabhakari Devi

By Ben Cable

Austin, TX , September 15, 2008 – Over the weekend, more than 200 people from Houston and the coastal area evacuated to the Barsana Dham temple located in northwest Hays County. Many of the evacuees were of the Hindu faith or natives of India who were seeking shelter from the storm.

Thousands of Houston residents fled Hurricane Ike’s wrath. In the third day of Ike’s destructive path, damage is yet to be assessed and many do not know when or if they can return home. The area of concern is still Galveston County, the hardest hit. Mary, of Barsana Dham appeared concerned as she told Cable Muse Network, “We are sitting here, high and dry,” However, many of the people still at the temple “might not have a home to go back to.”

The temple had converted buildings on the temple grounds to accommodate their visitors during this time. A yoga center, community hall and other facilities are being used as temporary dormitories. The temple shelter said it will remain open as long as needed. Subesh Mehta of Pearland, Texas was one of the early evacuees finding safe shelter at Barsana Dham. "This temple is a real blessing in a situation like this," said Mehta. "Barsana Dham is definitely the right place for all the people escaping the hurricane because the soothing environment helps us keep calm."

While Hurricane Ike’s evacuees to the temple were predominantly of Indian descent and the Hindu faith, Barsana Dham had opened its doors to anyone seeking shelter during the hurricane evacuation.  "The founder of the temple, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, tells us that one of the main principles of our Hindu faith is service," said Prabhakari Devi, Vice President of Barsana Dham, "So it's our humble service to open our doors to those fleeing the hurricane to provide a place of shelter in a warm and uplifting environment."

For the temple, this marked its second time to provide shelter accommodations for a major hurricane. In 2005, Barsana Dham served as a shelter during Hurricane Rita and housed more than 170 people during that evacuation. Prabhakari Devi told Cable Muse Network, “We were happy to do it.” When asked about the next storm she replied, “We’ve done it before and we will do it again.”

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Barsana Dham Temple

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