Indian center assists Hurricane Rita evacuees

A call center in India's western Gujarat state has helped Texas residents find shelter after their homes were damaged by Hurricane Rita.

Jim Iyoob, the call center director, said he received a distress call on Saturday from a senior judge in Texas, Robert Hurst, who requested a 24-hour helpline be set up in India for evacuees of Hurricane Rita.

"When I got the frantic call well after midnight, I set up the helpline in order to assist evacuees from near Gulf of Mexico to locate places for shelter," said Iyoob, who lives in Gandhinagar, the state capital of Gujarat.

In the first twelve hours of operation the center received 500 calls from residents in the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico hunting for a safe haven.

Millions were evacuated before Hurricane Rita hit the US Gulf Coast at the weekend and caused renewed flooding in New Orleans as well as power and property damage along the Texas-Louisiana coast.

The call center employees used information about evacuation plans provided by local authorities in Texas and maps to direct callers to shelters away from the path of the hurricane.

India is a major center for outsourcing with a large English-speaking population, the AFP reports.

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