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Old 09-02-2005, 05:47 PM   #1
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george r. brown for katrina relief

i just heard that the george r. brown convention center may be opened to katrina refugees. i haven't been able to find any info about it, so i don't know if it's 100% accurate. if it is true, things may get a little crazy around downtown.
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Old 09-02-2005, 07:11 PM   #2
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Re: george r. brown for katrina relief

Mayor opens Reliant Center, George R. Brown to evacuees
Astrodome at capacity, but buses with evacuees keep coming

Houston Mayor Bill White has authorized opening additional facilities -- Reliant Center and the George R. Brown Convention Center to evacuees from Hurricane Katrina

``We want this exhibition hall open right now. If it entails someone suing us, then OK.," the mayor said. "Then (they can) explain to the American public why.''

Nearly 13,000 evacuees from New Orleans filled Reliant Astrodome by early this morning, with officials saying the facility was full. But buses from New Orleans kept coming, and arrangements were made to place them in nearby Reliant Arena.

Officials said they expect as many as 18,000 people to be sheltered in the Reliant Park complex by noon today.

That included about 1,750 who arrived on about 35 buses and who were initially told they would be turned away.

More buses showed up this morning, and remain parked outside the Astrodome. Although many people are being allowed off the buses and are standing in lines outside Reliant Arena, many remain on the buses.

Volunteers who pull into the parking lot to deliver supplies -- such as soap, towels and other items for personal hygiene -- are being mobbed by small crowds of evacuees.

The number in the Astrodome is about half of the estimated 25,000 relief officials said would be sheltered in that building. Officials early this morning would not say whether they would still be able to accommodate that many.

The U.S. Postal Service announced this morning that evacuees at the Astrodome will be able to receive mail as early as Saturday.

The service created a special ZIP code to handle the mail: 77230.

Anyone who thinks they may have a friend or loved one sheltered at the Astrodome should address letters by name, with the address General Delivery, Houston, TX 77230.

The mail that comes in will be at the north ticket area at an onsite trailer, said Cliff Rucker, district manager for the U.S. Postal Service in Houston.

Rucker also said because of limited mail delivery in some ZIP codes in Louisiana, mail that cannot be delivered there has been diverted to Houston and will be processed, sorted and held here until addresses in those ZIP codes are available for service.

On the Dome floor this morning, areas that previously had been used for clothing lines and other organizational purposes were cleared away for more cots. Breakfast was being served, with evacuees eating grits, waffles and sausage.

Also outside Reliant Arena the, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was checking in animals.

One of the animals checked in was a five-year-old golden retriever mix named Precious. She and her owner swam for two days to escape the flooding. She was being loaded into a carrier that will be taken to the SPCA, which has taken in 300-400 animals onsite.

``You can tell these past events have started taking a toll. Some people have realized they may not be able to care for them (the pets). That's the sad part,'' said Jim Boller, director of shelter and field services for the SPCA.

Most of the animals they are seeing show signs of stress and dehydration.

Late Thursday, the Dome was closed as its population of evacuees swelled to 11,375, said Andrew Biar, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said the decision was made "for the safety and comfort of the people who are now in the Astrodome." At that time, passengers on one of five buses at the gate were allowed in. But then about 30 more buses arrived.

Shortly after midnight, Houston Police Sgt. Nate McDuell said those remaining buses would be allowed in. Some were sent to Reliant Arena.

Officials at the dome complex also put out a request for more volunteers to help, as well as medical personnel. Many of the evacuees are dehydrated, sick or suffering from other physical problems.

Dr. Douglas Hamilton of the Baylor College of Medicine said some people have died on the buses en route, and many are very ill. He said he has treated people with with renal failure, bipolar disorder, psychosis and congestive heart failure.

"They all need medication, and they did not have it with them," Hamilton said.

``Many people might think there are enough people here and there are not. We just need help. It's the kind of help doctors know how to give and we need it right now,'' said Dr. Steven Glorsky of Houston. ``We have a crisis in there.''

Glorsky said doctors inside were having trouble keeping up the pace with the number of people coming through who need treatment. He said he had treated heart attacks, open wounds and people who shouldn't have been released from hospital care in New Orleans.

The decision to close the Astrodome only added to the frustration of victims like Patricia Profit, who had relatives already inside the stadium.

``Before we left New Orleans, they said everybody will be in the Astrodome,'' said Profit as she stood outside one of the buses. ``'Don't panic, don't worry, you'll still be with your family.' That's what they told us. Now we can't be with our family.''

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that Dallas would host 25,000 more refugees at Reunion Arena and 25,000 others would relocate to a San Antonio warehouse at KellyUSA, a city-owned complex that once was home to an Air Force base.

Earlier Thursday, officials cited health and safety issues for limiting the number of evacuees.

"As people were coming and supplies were coming and the cots were being laid out, we realized we could accommodate fewer than we earlier thought," said Liese Hutchison, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross said late Thursday.

Organizers said they wanted to prevent a repeat of the conditions at the Superdome.

"We're not going to take people from one miserable situation in New Orleans and put them in another one here," McDuell said.

Tired, distraught passengers got off the buses and shouted angrily as police officers told them they could not stay.

"We've got sick people in here and this is how you treat us!" said Angel Alegria. "Welcome to Houston! I hope a hurricane comes to Houston!"

One New Orleans evacuee died Thursday at Reliant Astrodome, a city spokesman said.
A woman, who was between 60 and 70, suffered a heart attack, said Patrick Trahan, a spokesman for Mayor Bill White. Trahan said health officials told him that the woman said she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Her identity was not released Thursday night.

No other details about the death or the woman were available.

Passengers, some carrying babies, complained that they had made the long ride in unair-conditioned buses and were exhausted. One elderly man was placed in an ambulance and taken to a triage site.

Officials said chaotic conditions in New Orleans delayed transport of hurricane victims who have spent days in the Superdome there, with no electric power and few necessities.

Some of the first 2,000 evacuees who reached the Astrodome late Wednesday and early Thursday weren't from the Superdome, and county officials backed off from their earlier announcement that only Superdome evacuees would be admitted.

FEMA will reimburse the local expenses, officials said.

The Astrodome was not open to refugees who came to Houston before or shortly after Katrina made landfall.

Without such a policy, there would have been no space for evacuees fleeing the worsening conditions in New Orleans, said Margaret O'Brien-Molina, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross' Southwest Service Area.

Three hundred evacuees to be housed at the Dome were coming on two flights from Louisiana. Another 1,900 were to take an Amtrak train to Lafayette, La., and then board buses for Houston, said Rita Obey, spokeswoman for the county Public Health and Environmental Services Department.

But most made the trip in chartered and school buses. Late in the afternoon, tired, sad-looking riders filled four yellow West Baton Rouge Parish school buses that pulled up to the Dome.

The relief effort at the Dome remained a work in progress.

A 100,000-square-foot medical clinic set up in the Astroarena was nearly overwhelmed on its first day.

The clinic, which is seeking more volunteer doctors and nurses, saw 400 patients by 5 p.m. Nearly 50 people were sent to emergency rooms.

One man was arrested after fighting over a cot. Two others were arrested after peeping into a women's shower. Two of the four locker rooms at the Dome are for women, two for men.

State and local education officials were making plans to hold classes for evacuee children at the Dome or bus them to schools, County Judge Robert Eckels said.

Chronicle reporters Salatheia Bryant, Anne Marie Kilday and Zeke Minaya contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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Old 09-02-2005, 11:07 PM   #3
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Re: george r. brown for katrina relief

just found out they're gonna be moving up to 7,000 refugees into the convention center. if you work in downtown keep your guard up.
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