Houstonians Open Their Hearts and Cupboards for Katrina Victims

With relief organizations in Houston doing all they can to help Katrina victims who have come here, residents are now pitching in, setting-up makeshift supply drop-offs not far from where thousands are packed into the Astrodome.

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Howard Irvin is looking for the basics as the stands at the back of an open truck packed with toiletries, parked behind an old shopping center near the Astrodome. After two nights on a bridge near New Orleans, he's happy to have what little he can collect in a plastic bag. "We're not going to be able to go back there probably for months, for years. They had dead bodies right next to me, old folks with heat stroke and stuff," he says.

Cynthia Lewis sorts through a pile of clothing dropped-off by concerned citizens. She's found something to wear, but hasn't seen her kids since Monday. "It's helped me a whole lot," she says. "I was destroyed with everything, clothes, finances, everthing. It's helped me a little better than what I was, because I didn't have anything at the beginning, but I have something and I thank God for that."

Reneta Harris hold up a shirt she's found in the pile and says she's thankful for the grassroots effort to help her and others. "They have a lot of variety of things, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, clothes, shirts, something. We don't have anytying," she says.

Johnny Villareal runs down the menu as he prepares food across the parking lot. He and others, like firefighter Randy Pauly have manned this unofficial relief center since Wednesday, passing out donated water, meals and other neccessities. "The people out here are making the difference. They're not sitting at home, they're sitting there making a difference," says Pauly.

Kim Kovacs is sunburned and tired, but she's still handing out supplies to the stready stream of New Orleans residents looking for food and supplies. She says supplies from everyday people continue to pile-up. "They're bringing anything from water, I mean everything, diapers, baby clothes, juice. Everything. Air mattress bed, I mean, just everything,"she says.

Officials say they're still looking for volunteers at the Astrodome. They're told to show-up at the McNee entrance of Reliant Park for their assignments.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...