As thousands of Katrina evacuees settle into shelters, motels, hotels and homes across Houston, many are praising the city’s quick response to the disaster and its open arms over the past few days.
Outside what has become ground zero for disaster relief in Houston, sweat-soaked volunteers are unloading cases of water and hauling them inside the Astrodome. It’s a home away from home for thousands of evacuees who survived unimaginable conditions in New Orleans before they were brought here.
Sitting on his bed set-up along a concourse inside the Astrodome, Lawrence Tate looks relaxed and rested after a nightmare stay in the Super Dome and a long bus ride to Houston.
Dwayne Cummins has a cot, but no place to put it yet as he jots down the latest relief information and thinks about what he’ll do next. After three days on his roof in New Orleans, he says it’s good to be in Houston.
With his family of 39, Joseph Morris of New Orleans grabs a sack lunch in a huge makeshift dining hall at the newest shelter in Houston, the George R. Brown Convention Center. Morris was one of the first to arrive here and says he hopes he’s not a guest too long.
In the middle of a sea of inflateable mattresses, Jacqueline Washington and her family are happy to have a place to sleep.
Aida Interiano’s day job is an assistant principal, but today she’s making sure everyone has what they need, things like blankets and extra clothes.
Many of the evacuees say they’ll stay here as long as they need to, but hope to be able to get out on their own soon as they begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.