Thursday, September 01, 2005

Houston Opens Its Heart

"Are y'all from Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama?" asked our waiter at a restaurant downtown last night. "If so we are offering a 30% discount on your meal." This is becoming a common refrain around town.

Amid the reports of looting, shooting and disorder surrounding the attempts to evacuate people from New Orleans there are wonderful offers of assistance being organized in Houston.

As the Astrodome opens to 25,000 evacuees, cots are being set up on the floor. Plans are underway to accept donations of needed supplies. The idea is for the Astrodome to serve as a short-term shelter while the search is on for more permanent accomodations for this large number of people.

Elementary school classes for the children will be set up at the Astrodome through the Houston ISD. Some recently closed schools in the area for middle and high school will be re-opened to accomodate older students. Requirements for immunization records will be waived and extra textbooks are being ordered and more teachers hired. Buses are also going to be arranged for transportation to and from schools. The Catholic schools in the area and many private schools are also offering to enroll children of evacuees. Our own church school is also preparing to enroll children who come to our area.

A 211 line is now operating for people to call to find shelter openings or short-term housing opportunities. The Houston Apartment Association has a website where offers for free or deeply discounted short-term housing can be accessed.

There is also a link on the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau website for free or discounted admissions to many sporting events (Houston Astros and Comets, U of H football games), museum admissions, plays and even a free day for refugee families at 6 Flags Over Texas near the Astrodome.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: The City of San Antonio has agreed to take another 25,000 people from the New Orleans area.

I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room. Matthew 25:35 The Message


Songbird said...

God bless Houston! Please let the RevGal BlogPals know what is needed when that becomes clear, when donations in addition to money become practical.

reverendmother said...

Lord, I love that crazy wildcatting big-hearted city.

Quotidian Grace said...

This afternoon the Texas Dept of Health and Human Services announced they will give a month's worth of food stamps, no questions asked, to anyone appearing at one of their offices and showing a driver's license from Louisiana, Missisippi and Alabama.

The Houston Food Bank is now accepting donations of diapers, water, infant formula and food for those arriving at the Astrodome. People are asked not to come to the Dome with donations because it would interfere with medical teams examining the evacuees.

A temporary employment agency is trying to match those seeking work with businesses who can employ them.

The closed Kelly AFB in San Antonio is going to be opened as the temporary shelter for the 25,000 they agreed to take in.As a native of SA, I know they will be as hospitable as Houston.

In a couple of days I hope to be able to post information about non-monetary donations for those of you who have asked.

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