Shane and Shelly Cole were a Good Samaritan couple who opened their home to strangers evacuating New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina at the end of August. But just a few weeks later, with Hurricane Rita steering toward the Texas coast, the Coles found themselves in need of a Good Samaritan. Low-lying Pasadena, Texas, was at grave risk of catastrophic flooding.

Both the Coles' vehicles were disabled. Their van needed a $700 fuel pump they couldn't afford. Fixing their other vehicle's transmission would take a week. The Sheppards, the family the Coles hosted following Katrina, were in New Mexico and heard about the Coles' plight. They tried to wire the Coles some money. But Pasadena's Western Unions all had closed ahead of the storm.

In desperation, the Coles called the town's emergency services for a promised evacuation pickup. After three days of waiting, the bus was a no-show. The Coles then walked nearly four miles to a last-ditch pickup point. On arrival, they discovered the last bus out of Pasadena had already left.

They were offered room in the city's shelter, but no food, no water, and no cots were available. Perhaps prompted by the chaos the Coles had glimpsed in the Astrodome shelter, the couple returned home to face the Category 3 storm alone.

"If the Lord above decides to bring me home," Shane Cole said, "at least I know I will die very happy and in the loving arms of my beautiful wife." In the event they perished, Shane Cole e-mailed a journalist for Christianity Today their last messages for loved ones. Then they braced themselves and awaited Rita's worst.

Double WhammySince Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, southeastern Louisiana, and the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts on August 29, the death toll has ...

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