This isn't particularly neat, it's just a quick email I sent my aunt. I just figured I'd throw it up here to give a bit of a sense of what's going on down here in Houston.
Just a quick update from Houston.
If the local authorities are to be believed, there are now 75,000 people here from NO. I would actually guess that's probably higher if you include all the people staying with friends and family, but that number may just be shelters and hotels. After the fire marshall closed the dome last night to new arrivals, the mayor stepped in to open the Reliant hall, a rebuilt astrohall, and a part of the active football stadium.
Vote Bill White.
I have no idea of what is enough, but the people of Houston have been pouring forth support. Yesterday, I took some clothes down, and saw the early turnout, but by today, almost everyone is chipping in something. My block has a little clothing drive and just about every media business is taking up donations of clothes, food, etc. And just anecdotally I can say that I haven't come across an office that hasn't started a pool.
The local Pacifica station was running a kids' things drive, baby food, formula, old baby clothes, and having none of those, I took up a collection at the tennis courts and went to the dollar store and the walmart to buy a hundred cheap dolls, cars, puzzles, crayons and such. I mention this not to blow my own horn, but to add context for what I'm about to say. At the small 99cent store, only two slots wide in the strip mall and a good twenty miles from the dome, I came across four other people doing the same thing but on different themes. One was gathering school supplies and books, one was doing soap, shampoo, shaving etc, and two more were doing baby goods. Three were from local offices and the other was from a women's book group. Then at Walmart, I ran across another half dozen people filling their carts and hitting up other shoppers just the way I was. Pretty incredible.
And I've got to concede, being probably one of the most anti organized religion guys on the planet, that the local churches have really stepped up. BIG MONEY. One in particular I ought to mention is Second Baptist, one of the three local megachurches who I have great issues with. But Second Baptist has stepped up to sponsor an entire month of feeding people at the Dome complex. Eventually 35,000 people, three meals a day, thirty days, that's a big commitment even for a church with a 12,000 seat sanctuary. I feel quite certain that that action is not isolated and that First Baptist and Lakewood have probably stepped in to commit the same thing.
And on a smaller level, as I outlined in the blog, pretty much every church in the area is chipping in pretty big, whether it's space, organization (job placement/tutoring/daycare/volunteers), or just money.
I'm quite proud to be a Houstonian right now.
I hope the effort is sustained. That's my only fear right now, is that this will fade a bit from consciousness, but again, with some of the big churches involved, they should be able to sustain the effort by buying advertising space later to keep it in consciousness.
Now, I do have to say, there have been some blacker moments. There have been a few calls to the radio stations, and some responses in the local paper's blog asking why Houston is supporting looters and why would we bring those criminals here. But pretty much all of them have that word "those", as in the thinly veiled racist "those people," and I would say that represents a pretty small minority that is present throughout most of the south. There's already been spreading the rumor of children being raped in the dome(not true) and a carjacking, and a couple that was tied up beaten and robbed(all not true) through those highly reliable third hand emails that get passed around.
I'm pretty sure there's going to be some hairy moments at the Dome complex, I don't see how you can stick 25K or 35K people sleeping elbow to elbow in a facility not designed for it and not have problems.
One more anecdotal. I have a friend who lives alone in a three bedroom house out west. We were talking, and he said he'd like to house some people for a month. I pointed out that Moveon.org is organizing matches for that, and being the good Republican that he is, he said "F**k that, I'm not working with those assholes." So I got out my LaQuinta list from the travelling salesman days and we started calling looking for somebody who was begging for extra days. Bingo. DeJean, party of four your rooms are ready.
We're doing our best down here. Best thing ya'll can do, besides Red Cross(or other non-denominational contributions) is to get up the ass of any politician who is dragging their feet. Call your congressman, call your senator, they're all already campaigning for the 2006 midterms anyway and would love a popular issue to press that no one will stand against. Just like the "patriotism/national defense" issue was so big in the 2002 midterms, we need to make this the patriotism issue in the next election.
Enough, I'm rambling again.