By mid-afternoon, 5,000 Katrina evacuees from the Superdome had made it to the Astrodome. The people started arriving even as local, state and federal officials here continue to set up what amounts to a small city.
The familiar orange and yellow seats circle the Dome. But instead of looking down at a sports field, the floor is covered from end to end with cots. People are wondering up and down the rows.
American Red Cross’ Liese Hutchison says off to one side, out of sight, is the medical clinic. Hutshison says five doctors and an unkown number of nurses are helping the evacuees the best they can. Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services Executive Director Herminia Palacio says medical officials here are familiar with the health concerns because of flooding exeriences here.
Elected officials are now calling the Astrodome an American refugee effort.As people arrived, officials got them inside as quickly as possible, giving them a comfort kit with personal hygiene products and an opportunity to shower.Linwood Hollins survived the Superdome and the bus ride to Houston.
Others are frustrated. People who made it to Houston before the storm are not able to contact those inside the dome. Dennis Depre left for Houston with his toddler daughter. His wife stayed behind.
The Red Cross plan to get a list of all the evacuees in the dome, but it’s not known when that list will be put together or where it will be made available.Nobody knows how long the evacuees will be in the Dome, but Harris County Judge Robert Eckels says they still hope it won’t be months.