23,000 Hurricane Refugees Expected at Astrodome
by: Laurie Johnson, August 31, 2005 12:08:00 am
Thousands of evacuees are flooding the hotels and shelters of Houston, including an expected additional 23,000 to be housed in the Astrodome. The American Red Cross is in charge of preparing shelter and food for the influx of new refugees. Some of the challenges include providing enough portable showers and toilets. The Red Cross's Margaret O'Brian Molina says another big issue is containing that many people in small quarters.
The Astrodome schedule has been cleared through December, so it could potentially become a long-term shelter. However, Harris County Judge Robert Eckels says the facility can't handle that kind of crowd very easily.
Tim Kidwell is the director of disaster services at the Red Cross. He says although the Astrodome will be open to refugees from the Superdome, the burden on other shelters will continue to increase. As people run out of money to stay in hotel rooms, they'll be looking for other kinds of sheltering.
The Red Cross will continue to open shelters as they fill up. A number of churches and other organizations are also offering meals and temporary housing. Governor Rick Perry says Texas will do its best to meet the needs.