NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 5, 2005 — -- Fed up with what he says is the government's slow response in rescuing residents along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, a California businessman is taking action.
Over the weekend, David Perez launched an effort to evacuate New Orleans -- on his own. Using $200,000, Perez chartered a Boeing 737. Upon landing in Louisiana, he unloaded much-needed supplies he had purchased at a local Costco and later reloaded the plane with 86 weary hurricane victims.
"These people need to have their kids in school and get their feet back on the ground," Perez said. "They have gone through devastation."
The group headed to San Diego, where Perez has organized a contingent of local families to open up their hearts and homes as temporary shelters.
Perez's efforts are greatly appreciated by those who have lost everything. "I don't have nowhere else to go," said hurricane victim Norman Chatman. "I'm looking for a new start, a new beginning."
Perez said he's just doing what the government failed to do to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. "It's a joke," he said. "Everyone took a vacation from this disaster."
Perez was there for every step of the journey, handing out boarding passes and helping with luggage. When the plane touched down in San Diego, tears of devastation finally turned to tears of joy.
As chairman and chief operating officer of Carmel Valley-based Surge Global Energy, Perez said he's counting on one of the company's drilling operations to pay his credit card bills for the relief effort -- or else he will have to take out a second mortgage on his San Diego home. If all goes well, he might arrange for additional evacuation flights.
"If I save one life -- just one life -- and I make one person's life better on this trip," he said, "it's worth a million dollars to me."
ABC News' David Muir reported this story for "Good Morning America."