Thursday, February 16, 2006
Houston straining under weight of Katrina evacuees
I was off last night in Arizona shooting a story for an upcoming broadcast and am now on a plane heading for Houston, Texas. Tonight's broadcast will be from there.

We want to see how some of the people who evacuated from the Gulf Coast to Houston because of Hurricane Katrina are doing. This city took in more than 100,000 evacuees after the storm. It is coping now with growing pressure on its schools and hospitals while contending with an apparent increase in crime.

Despite these issues, I continue to be amazed by the resilience of so many people in the face of tragedy. Many have lost homes, jobs, everything they know, and yet they persevere.

"What option do we have?" one woman asked me this past weekend in New Orleans. She was about to be evicted from the hotel where she was staying. Of course, she's right -- getting up each morning, putting one foot in front of the other -- what else can you do when your world has crumbled?
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 2:22 PM ET
  71 Comments
Anderson,
Thank you for you constant coverage of Katrina Victims. I look forward to tonights episode !
You are an amzaing journalist. Keep up the great work.
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Waterloo, Ontario Canada : 2:55 PM ET
I wonder how historians will tell this story. Do you think there will one day be university courses on the failure of American to take care of its own.

Anderson, I'll be watching. Thank you for continuing to focus attention on this sad American saga.

Thanks for blogging!

Linda, Boulder Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 2:59 PM ET
A Hurricane Rita update would be nice as well. Let's not forget those folks.
Posted By Anonymous Sheba, Galveston, TX : 3:02 PM ET
I too am humbled by the grace under pressure and positive desire to move forward that so many of these people show. I like to think I'd handle it Ok, but truly, I don't know. Thank you and bless you, Anderson, for continuing to put names and faces on the victims of this tradedy for us. I continue to pray for them all.
Posted By Anonymous Ann, Ames, IA : 3:03 PM ET
What choice do any of us have? We took in those that needed help. And we will continue to help them.
Posted By Anonymous Carlie, Austin, TX : 3:04 PM ET
Keep up the good work keeping them honest, Anderson.

I so admire the strength and resiliency of all of the hurricane surivors. Their government may have abandoned them but their humanity hasn't.
Posted By Anonymous Cat, Niagara Falls NY : 3:06 PM ET
Will you please ask some of the interviewees about their job-hunting prospects? Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Tina -Chicago IL : 3:06 PM ET
Anderson, You sure do travel alot. I appreciate how you go to the heart of the stories to get the public's reaction. You make the stories more real and help alot of people.
Posted By Anonymous Linda Williams, Las Vegas, Nv. : 3:07 PM ET
I have witnessed people who have lost everything they have owned from flooding, and it is devastating to see family and friends have no where to go. These people can't get any help from the government nor others in neighboring states. When hotels have people to leave the only place they have to call 'home', they are asking them to live on the streets once again. All we can do is pray for those people.
Posted By Anonymous Kristen Casto, Charleston West Virginia : 3:09 PM ET
The woman who asked "what option do we have", was absolutely right. There really is no other choice if life is to go forward - even in the face of a catastrophe.

I think that we are all, to varying degrees, always trying to pick up the pieces and carry on the best that we can. The people who are confronted with destruction of epic proprtions, like the victims of Katrina, are models to us all of how to do just that.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Ontario, Canada : 3:09 PM ET
I can't imagine what these people must be going through. For me, it's impossible not to care about these people and I'm glad you're still giving them the attention they deserve.

Admittedly I never really gave disasters like Katrina and their victims much thought in the past, it's hard to fully grasp the weight of such a tragedy when you can't really see it. Sometimes I think seeing images on a tv screen makes it less real to people that mention "Katrina fatigue."

But I volunteer training dogs at my local animal shelter, and a chocolate lab rescued from St. Bernard perish ended up here in Ohio. It was evident that she had seen and experienced terrible things because of the heartbreaking look in her eyes. Suddenly Katrina was very real to me, and I started thinking about what might have happened to her family, her home, and all of the other people whose lives were devastated by the storm.

The fact that innocent people are still without homes when there are rows and rows of trailers sitting empty is deplorable. We can't stop getting after the government until they do something.

I wanted to ask you if you could possibly compile a list of addresses or email addresses of officials that we could write to about the trailers, I want to help out. Thanks, Anderson, keep on keepin' em honest!
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 3:10 PM ET
It's true, you never know what you're capable of until you don't have a choice. I think we've all had challenges in our lives that have showed us what we're really made of and later leave us mystified at ourselves that we were able to overcome them. What the Katrina evacuees have endured, and continue to endure, is off the scales and they deserve enormous admiration just for the fact that they haven't given up on life by now. Hopefully someday in the not too distant future they will be able to look back and feel proud of their accomplishment. I also hope this will be a lesson to future White House administrations that maybe there should be some kind of fund set up to assist people who are victims of natural disasters such as this. No one should be penalized just because they happened to live in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Posted By Anonymous AM, Piscataway, NJ : 3:18 PM ET
A/
Thank you for the story on the journey of our fellow citizens devastated by hurricane Katrina. In a society of "15 seconds of fame" it is important to share the stories of others that have suffered so greatly -- and not just move on to the next big story. You quote from the woman that says "what option do we have?" rings true - to me it is a little like living with someone that is dying -- you don't think you can take it, or do what you have to do, but amazingly so - you put one foot in front of the other -- and you do it. Again, thank you for sharing a small part of the lives of those in the hurricane zone of 2005 with the rest of the world.
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie H., Brooklyn NY : 3:19 PM ET
I too am amazed by the strength and determination of those people who have to deal with this tragedy every day. I guess we don't always really know what's in us until we have no choice but to face such terrible obstacles. My thoughts and prayers go out to each and every one of them!
Posted By Anonymous Victoria Monaca, PA : 3:24 PM ET
If humans were not resilient, our nations population would severely suffer. Miami recovered post Hurricane Andrew, but it took some time and effort. Consider how remarkably we've thrived since the horrors of 9/11.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Markowitz, Chicago, IL : 3:26 PM ET
Keep 'Keeping Them Honest' Anderson and good job! We really do appreciate people like you!
Posted By Anonymous Shanan, Winston-Salem NC : 3:27 PM ET
Anderson, it's a shame all the suffering of these people, they had to leave their homes, they lost everything, now they are being evicted from the hotels, and the trailers en New Orleans are empty!!, I just can't believe it.
I hope they can find a good place to live in Houston, and a good life because they deserve it after all they've been through.
Posted By Anonymous Claudia, Los Angeles, CA : 3:27 PM ET
It seems when we are faced with adversity, we can either let it take us down, or we can strive to learn from it. This is not always easy, based on the severity of the situation, but hopefully we will choose the more positive approach to dealing with our problems, since the negative choice doesn't really solve anything, it only makes the adversity worse.
Posted By Anonymous Ellee , Fargo, ND : 3:27 PM ET
I have had the honor of working with several Katrina families making new lives in North Carolina. My practice was able to provide these families with free eyecare, help with housing and jobs. All of them have been overwhelmed by the support and love given to them by strangers. It has been a true blessing for me to see these famlies continue to grow in spirit and physical strength. I am amazed at the peace of heart and mind that these people have; even after such loss. I remember sitting in an exam room with one lady and holding her hand and all she could do was cry and all I could do was hold on to her. The greif was so real I could reach out and touch it; almost taste it. I had the pleasure of seeing her a couple of weeks ago and she took my hand in her hand and smiled. She thanked me for holding her that afternoon, but she is the one to be thanked for teaching me that words are not enough. There are times when simply holding a hand is.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl, Wake Forest North Carolina : 3:28 PM ET
It is true, we have to be strong during life's challenges, set good examples to all those we meet, continue to be hopeful and look for solutions to hardships.
Posted By Anonymous Mel M, St. John's, Canada : 3:30 PM ET
Many of the Katrina evacuees were already living on the edge. The effects of poverty and discrimination were not left behind. These folks need much more than just a roof over their heads in order to rebuild their lives.
Posted By Anonymous Paulette Ciotti, Katonah, NY : 3:33 PM ET
It is impressive to see people's resilience but did they have to be tested that far ? A little more help from the officials would have been much appreciated and still would be.
There are limits to patience and perseverance and no one should have to go through waiting for months for basic things like housing especially after all they had to suffer.

Thank you Anderson for sharing these stories relentlessly.
Posted By Anonymous Manon, Longueuil, Quebec : 3:38 PM ET
It IS amazing to see how people are moving on in such scary situations like being evicted (after all they've dealt with)....especially for people who have lost people from their lives and they don't know where they are or what happened to them; that would be unbearable. This should make us all try harder to face obstacles with a more positive attitude and help us to reach out where each of us can in our own way to help others. Anderson, you've certainly helped to foster that idea: to act together as one group of people instead of "us" and "them".
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Verba, Des Plaines, IL : 3:38 PM ET
I do agree that putting one foot infront of the other is about all that you can do in such a situation. I agree it's horrible the way things are going down there. I wish something could be done quickly to help those poor people get back on their feet and to the cities and towns they love. I am a faithful follower of your show and I think you are doing a wonderful job on the coverage of Hurricane katrina and keeping thier plight remembered.
Posted By Anonymous Mae Aldridge, Moberly MO : 3:38 PM ET
It is With great dismay that we see our fellow americans suffer in a country where there are billions and billions of dollars in resources. How can we be the america that our founders thought of, our military fights for and we work for and not have the capacity to rebuild this city through all the needed funds and assistance and put this major prot back on the map. Anderson it would show the resilance and the compassion of the entire United States of America. Let us not be weary in well doing but in due season if we faint not we shall reap our reward.
Posted By Anonymous Robert Morton, Wilberforce , Ohio : 3:40 PM ET
Yes, determination seems to be all that some of the victims of Katrina have. It is amazing all the waste in resources and money that has taken place because of FEMA. Why not move the Trailers they have in Alabama to Texas and set up temporary housing for the victims there, where they wouldn't be in a flood zone, if that is the true issue? Does anyone in FEMA have two brain cells to rub together. By this time they could have bought land some where in Texas, set up the services for the trailers and had a place for people to live rather than their cars. It is disheartening to to see so much waste of resources that could go towards helping those who really need it now.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, San Diego, CA : 3:41 PM ET
I remember John Locke says our life cannot be separated with properties or possessions. I cannot agree more. We need to hold on to some materials in order to survive.

When I watched your show (360) covering the stories of people in Katrina, I could not, and still cannot, image what a life would be for those people who have lost EVERYTHING.

Anderson, I understand how difficult it is for a journalist to see things like this. Does CNN provide a debrief for their staff?
Posted By Anonymous Marie, Calgary, Alberta : 3:41 PM ET
My heart truly goes out to these people. I can only imagine the chaos and upheaval in their lives caused by all that has happened to them.

But in a very small way, I can identify with what they are feeling. A couple of years ago I lost my job unexpectedly, encountered health problems that made it difficult to find another job, and lost my mother to an illness that had been misdiagnosed by several doctors. This all occurred within a two month period. The only thing that kept me going was my faith and my daughter, who is my greatest blessing.

I now have a new job and my health has improved. But it has been a difficult journey, and the emptiness left in my heart and in my life by my mother's passing is still hard to deal with.

My thoughts and prayers are and will continue to be with all those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Being able to put one foot in front of the other is the first step in their journey to build a new life. Hopefully, with the help of all of us, the rest of the journey won't be quite as difficult.
Posted By Anonymous Phyllis Lancaster, PA : 3:44 PM ET
Anderson:

Welcome back blogging!

What option do these people have? That is why AC360 should continue to keep showing the "Keeping Them Honest" segments, continue the regular visits to New Orleans and constantly keep this Story "alive" -- not forget our fellow Americans. Thanks to the city of Houston who took in the more than 100,000 evacuees after the storm.

Hopefully in the end, everything will be resolved and these people can soon return to their normal lives or what is left of their lives.

Maybe we can learn from this experience.
Posted By Anonymous Vicki, Long Island, NY : 3:44 PM ET
Anderson, Have you read Oprah's latest book club selection, Elie Wiesel's, Night? It's particularly solemn, yet a fascinating read. Some of the questions Katrina evacuees have expressed are answered in Night. Mr. Wiesel is an Auschwitz survivor.
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca, Lombard, IL : 3:45 PM ET
The toll in human suffering, deprivation and need is astronomical for those who were so impacted by Hurricane Katrina. And yet, those that have been given aid and comfort by fellow Americans include the bad as well as the good.

To consider the impact of the crime rate in cities such as Houston, escalating in terms of the enormous flow of displaced from the Hurrican stricken areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and other parts of the Gulf Coast, we are forced to a sense of discontent and distrust towards many, if not all, of these unfortunate people.

Obviously there is nothing in our nation's history to compare with the tremendous loss of life, property and place that so many Americans have recently suffered. However, the survivors; instead of giving thanks to their benefactor's, seem to be allowing this tragedy to become the new mantle of the "take" part of our society.

It's logically inhumane to consider that impacted cities, towns and other areas, nuturing the survivors, should immediately cut further welfare like hand-outs to those who are strong enough to work. However, the history of this nation includes the dark days of the pre and post-depression era of the late 1920's-early 1930's, where no such hand-outs were available.

Although millions were socially impacted by those events of yesteryear; many to the extent of no food, no homes, no assets and, literally, no hope, the national government stepped in with FDR's programs to allow men and women to retain their dignity while; at the same time, providing them gainful work which resulted in building a stronger and vibrant nation which would soon be called to the task of dealing with dictators and despots throughout the Second World War and thereafter.

One wonders where that same spirit and willingness is today among both government agencies, which can implement such programs and those willing to participate in them from amongst the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

The sad truth is that another national calamity; maybe even much more devastating than this hurricane is just waiting to happen. Combined with the awful truth of terrorism on the rise world-wide, we face bigger dilemmas in the future.

It's time for the nation to once again come together and act. Those who are stricken need to understand and act like responsible Americans, those who provide the ability to control the misdeeds of the bad among those people must act to assert the rule of law that is basically the rule of this land. There must be a complete change of mindset and dedication, no longer can anyone believe that this country owes them "something". This country is the greatest country in the world, bar none. I have served this nation in several wars and in the many years of Cold War intriques, risks and threats. My 48 years of military and federal service within the Department of Defense allow me; in my opinion, to make such an observation.

We cannot help but succeed in restoring all of America back to it's pre-Hurricane and 9/11 greatness and pride.

All it takes is dedication and action on the part of us all.
Posted By Anonymous Vic Markey, Williamsburg, VA : 3:45 PM ET
It's a difficult situation for those who resided in the city prior to the hurricanes.

Please explain to those who were looking for section 8 housing, prior to the disasters, and were on a waiting list for almost a year how all this housing suddenly became available? The real answer, not the politically correct one.
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Houston, Texas : 3:46 PM ET
I'm really glad to see that you're pursuing this story. So many other people have reported and moved on. My prayers are with those who are suffering both physically and emotionally. I KNOW that they'll eventually pull through. Thanks again for all of your help and dedication, Anderson.
Posted By Anonymous Alex, New Orleans, LA : 3:50 PM ET
Anderson
I look foward to seeing your show tonight. You are one special man. I pray that things will get better in the gulf coast area. While other reporters have moved on your constant committment to this disaster proves you have a good heart. Keep putting the pressure on them Anderson, this is the only way to see some results. I do hope that you will follow up on the family whose baby was missing. You were in Waveland, MS They found the bsby in Fort Worth, TX. It would be nice to see how they are doing. Thanks
May God Bless You
Terrie
Posted By Anonymous Terrie Ford Colonial Heights, VA : 3:52 PM ET
I was always a "f-x News" man until Katrina - thanks for the doses of reality.
Posted By Anonymous James L. Bills - New Orleans, LA : 3:52 PM ET
How can what is happening to these people not make every American's blood boil?
Posted By Anonymous Tyler, Santa Cruz, CA : 3:58 PM ET
Here in Las Vegas we received quite a few evacuees from the hurricane as well. When the gov't cut off those receiving benefits for housing etc there was an outcry by the evacuees. Although I feel for those that have been displaced, I do not believe that the gov't should support those that are able bodied and capable of working
it has been a fair amount of time for most to find work...Las Vegas is rich is jobs. Those that are complaining here in Vegas need to get off their butts and get a job! Freeloading off of my paycheck and other taxpayers is getting old. Stop playing the victim and become part of the solution...
Posted By Anonymous Jen Smith, Las Vegas NV : 3:59 PM ET
Anderson,
I've been through some trials in my life recently but nothing like the people affected by the hurricanes. I often wonder where my strength comes from as I am sure these people wonder every day. Somehow we manage to go on.

You are right that nothing should surprise us when the government mismanages our tax payer dollars for hurricane relief or any other program. Keep up the pressure on government officials at all levels. I do not hesitate to email my senators/representative in Washington when I have questions or concerns about issues. You should encourage your viewers to do the same. Also, how/where is the money contributed to charities being spent for hurricane relief?
Posted By Anonymous J.R., Grand Rapids, MI : 4:00 PM ET
Tragedy is a sad thing. It rips people apart. It tears them down. But where would we be without it? I fully believe that New Orleans will only be stronger after this. Things will get done (in a large part, thanks to you, Anderson) and it will be restored to all it's glory. Just as New York has done, so too will New Orleans find itself again. It has a nation that believes in it.
Posted By Anonymous Margaret, Tacoma WA : 4:06 PM ET
I am very thankful to the state of Texas for taking my fellow New Orleanians in. In particular Houston, You guys have been champs. So to Houston I say to you, New Orleans loves ya Baby.
Posted By Anonymous Charles New Orleans , LA : 4:11 PM ET
This is a fairly blunt observation, but one option that people have is to find employment, make living accommodations, and start to plan their futures. I'm not sure what other options exist. Free hotel space forever really doesn't seem to be practical.

That said, the poor who were impacted by Katrina have a tremendous challenge. So many people did not own a home to begin with. Those that did may not have had adequate insurance. We have seen a failure of our society to deal with deep problems with a historical basis in slavery and racism in the south.
Posted By Anonymous David K, Atlanta, Georgia : 4:13 PM ET
Anderson, thank you for continuing to focus on the Katrina victims. I'm always amazed at the will of the human spirit in times of tragedy. My heart goes out to each and every family struggling to survive.
Posted By Anonymous Annette L., Alpha, NJ : 4:18 PM ET
Why is it that the majority of your comments are about New Orleans and you rarely mention Mississippi. Have you even bothered to look at pictures of Bay St. Louis, Waveland or Gulfport, MS? The actual "Tidal Surge", which was 25 feet, hit the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Unlike Louisanna though, Mississippi is a state of proud people, who stood up, dusted themselves off, surveyed the damage and went to work rebuilding.
Posted By Anonymous Tamera Henriet, Ocean Springs, MS : 4:19 PM ET
I am confused why some people are still in hotels after all these months. Are they unable to get jobs in Houston? I lived in Houston for many years - rent is cheap, (500-600/mo will get you a 900-1000 sq ft apartment), there is no rent control, and racism in housing is rare. Or are they hoping that somehow everything will go back to normal again? The lack of initiative is both perplexing and disturbing to me. There is no shortage of blue-collar jobs in Houston.
Posted By Anonymous Alvaro Fernandez, Vicksburg, MS : 4:22 PM ET
Welcome to Houston, Anderson! I notice that Katrina and Rita have changed us in many ways, including demography of the city and surrounding areas. Small story: last Halloween night, there's a knock on the door and when I opened the door, there was a pleasant surprises: new faces, kids and adults, not my neighbors! I was pretty sure they are from New Orleans (I lived in New Orleans before), I am familiar with the smiles and warmth and friendliness that I miss. I did not ask if they are (thought it would be too sensitive) despite we chatted about candies and goodies. When they left, I realized that maybe Houston (and other places) will be friendlier ... becoming more like the faces that I met in the Halloween night. I guess I am just trying to see the smallest silver lining in the midst of this unfathomable tragedy. We can't say enough about it.
Posted By Anonymous Chloe, Houston, TX : 4:24 PM ET
Houston is a big city with a big heart. We have taken in more than our share of evacuees and were happy to do so. However, I am appalled by the mismanagement of FEMA in allocating funds, wasting millions of dollars on trailers sitting in mud and building morgues that were not used. What's going on?
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne Houston TX : 4:26 PM ET
Instead of focusing on what's going to happen now to evacuees in hotels that are now getting evicted, how about asking why they haven't been out looking for a job and working during the last 6 months while they had free rent? That way, they could have saved some money and could now afford an apartment. Unfortunately, that attitude of helplessness is why so many of my fellow New Orleanians also lived in poverty before the storm. Clearly, we have been dealt a bad hand; but sitting around waiting for the Feds to come to the rescue isn't going to solve a person's (or family's) immediate problems.
Posted By Anonymous Tony, New Orleans, LA : 4:27 PM ET
I do feel really sorry for those evacuees but I belive your admiration should not be an all encompassing one. Resilience should be admired but I would rather see some perserverance. I cannot bring myself to admire someone who is being evicted because they haven't found gainful employment. But not to fear, I'm sure it's the government's fault.
Posted By Anonymous Andrew, Fort Worth, Texas : 4:27 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,

I have been a big fan of yours for a couple years now and I am glad to see that you will be in my town. Ever since I moved here in 1992 I have been utterly amazed at the hospitality Houstonians display to visitors. This is a trait that I have made my own as I was one of the hundreds of volunteers at the Astrodome right after Katrina. I also saw first hand at many victims of Katrina (and Rita) because there was a hurricane shelter behind my pharmacy. It was the most stressful and rewarding three months of my life. I hope you have a great visit here!!
Posted By Anonymous Don, Houston, Tx. : 4:28 PM ET
I too am very impressed with how the people of these natural disasters have kept moving in a positive direction and have continued to keep their heads high. I would like to know what kind of impact the crime has had on the city of Houston and what the people of the area are doing to remedy this situation.
Posted By Anonymous Allen Houston, Texas : 4:30 PM ET
Although I live in the Northeast and have only seen and heard what they have endured through the television, my heart still goes out to them. Losing their homes forever due to bad government planning, having to relocate (sometimes with missing family members), and then to have that housing pulled out from under them? That's too much to go through in such a short amount of time. I respect them for dealing with it everyday; I doubt I would be able to.
Posted By Anonymous Pooja, Iselin, NJ : 4:31 PM ET
I am a Houstonian and have been affected on numerous occassions by the aggressive and dangerous behavior of the evacuees. On one occasion they hurled rocks at my car in downtown. Authorities say we have to understand their mentality which does not mean they can act at home in this city. Some of them are great people that I have personally met and helped with food and clothes. The majority seem to be scumbags that need to go back!
Posted By Anonymous Joe McCarty, Houston, TX : 4:32 PM ET
I really appreciate your Katrina posts and stories. At first, I thought the whole "keeping them honest" line sounded a little hokey and contrived, but it actually describes perfectly what you have done.

One thing I would find really interesting is a story on how Katrina evacuees are surviving the day-to-day -- something we all wonder if we ever experience a tragedy like this personally. How does one pay his/her bills, or even RECEIVE the bills for that matter? Does his/her credit rating get totally shot so when they want to get a new home, they can't? How do they afford the basics -- food, for example -- if they are not getting paid and not able to stay with family? Psychologically, how does one accept that he/she has to take charity to survive (I don't mean this in a snobby way, I just think humans are inherently proud and independent, and fear relying on outside resources)?
Posted By Anonymous Tara, Easthampton, MA : 4:34 PM ET
Thanks for your continuing coverage on this. I know friends and business owners who feel completely forgotten and facing unbelievable challenges. It seems our political leaders are quite quiet on this topic, other than defending themselves and pointing the blame. I suppose they don't want to draw further attention to thier failures. But hey! There is quail to be hunted!!!
Posted By Anonymous A. Fabello Houston, TX : 4:34 PM ET
How about presenting information on volunteer opportunities or suggesting other ways we can actively support the re-creation of the communities devastated by natural disasters?

Typing my support and outrage isn't enough.

Obviously our tax dollars and FEMA funds are being wasted, so volunteering is probably more useful...
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, Philadelphia, PA : 4:34 PM ET
I have lived in Houston all my life and now I want to move away to a place that is safer. Crime is up 30% and shows now signs of decreasing. Local News reports that the ratio of police to citizens is one of the lowest in the country. Houstonians are once agin looking over our shoulders. We opened our hearts, homes, and wallets to the evacuees and this is how we are repaid. It is a tragedy what the Katrina victims have gone through but, evry year a city or town is Florida seems to go through the same and they survive and rebuild. While getting my nails done shortly after Hurricane Rite hit near Houston, three women from N.O. were takling about filing with FEMA to get more money. The system has been abused.
Posted By Anonymous Sydnie - Houston, TX : 5:11 PM ET
No one that lives in Houston has commented, but we really need help. Crime has increased as has gang activity. These are people that have been taken care of and sheltered their whole lives by the government and are waiting for the next move to be provided. We should never put these people back together again in NO but keep them seperated and let them adjust to the real world. Generations of poverty and poor in no work ethnic leads to demands that we need to stop now.

If you think this sound harsh, you need to scratch the surface and look at reality!
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Houston, TX : 5:11 PM ET
"apparent increase in crime"... is an understatement.
Posted By Anonymous Daniel Carpenter, Houston, TX : 5:13 PM ET
As someone from San Antonio who visits Houston regularly on business, I can speak first-hand of the wonderful way Houston (and San Antonio) embraced the evacuees; without hesitation, without question. It was just the right thing to do. Are things perfect? No, of course not. But for the most part, these people have been able to stay together, stay safe, stay sheltered and keep some of their dignity. Can the federal government or FEMA say the same?
Posted By Anonymous Joseph M., San Antonio, Texas : 5:15 PM ET
As a Houstonian that has performed various volunteer tasks related to Katrina, I have seen some of the good, the bad and the ugly of the situation. I am sympathetic to those displaced by Katrina and wouldn't wish that on anyone. However, some (but by no means all) evacuees are more interested in the hand-outs without any responsibility on their part to improve upon their lives. They maintain their criminal and irresponsible attitudes and lifestyles. They have endured a geographic change but more than that, they need to make a "cultural" change. My question in response to the post is: Why after 5 months, is that woman still living in a hotel when apartments and/or trailers are available? Did she make a real effort to get more permanent housing? While the media is reporting on the failures by the various governmental agencies and asking those in charge tough questions (and rightfully so), I would appreciate the reporters asking equally tough questions to the evacuees. What steps are they taking and how are they using the resources (government and charity provided) to build a better life for themselves and their families? Expose the deadbeats for what they are while praising those that have really faced the adversity and taken positive steps to rebuild their lives.
Posted By Anonymous Ray Hansen, Houston TX : 5:25 PM ET
I am long time resident of Houston and a proud Texan. I too have helped out those in need due to Katrina, but enough is enough. Crime have exponentially risen, not just in the area of homicide, but in burglaries of homes and cars. It's is a sad fact that people have been displaced, but to EXPECT the government and other people to still help them out 6 months after the incident and STILL can't find a place to live and work is just plain ridiculous. They need to get off their butts and contribute to society instead of milking the hard working and law abiding citizens. What about the citizens of Florida when they have the hurricane season? I don't hear or see them in the media begging for a free handout just because their house got destoyed. They picked themselves up and try to rebuild. This kinda of shows the world the difference of general hurricane victims and hurricane Katrina victims
Posted By Anonymous Joe C.; Houston, TX : 5:27 PM ET
Thank you for keeping the focus on Katrina -- sometimes I think that we have been forgotten. It would be nice if you and the other media could spend some time reporting not just on the least fortunate of the evacuees, who have certainly suffered greatly, but also on some of us middle-class evacuees. I have never stayed in a FEMA-subsidized hotel; I received a grand total of $1100 in aid from FEMA and no charity from any other organization; and I found a new job and began working in Texas within four weeks of the storm. It has been so hard, psychologically and emotionally, even without the financial strain. My friends, in New Orleans and those who have relocated, and I still feel disoriented, depressed, and completely unsure about the future. This is probably a less exciting news story than some of the more dramatic stories, but I don't know if people realize how deeply many of their fellow citizens, who appear to be financially sound, are really hurting.
Posted By Anonymous Andrea, Dallas, TX : 6:24 PM ET
Katrina definitely had a dominio effect with Houston bearing the brunt of it. It's admirable that Houston came to the aid of so many so quickly.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy, Fairfax Station, VA : 6:29 PM ET
It's very easy for people who DON'T live in Houston to comment about how Houston should embrace Katrina victims with unconditional love and resources. But the fact is that regular residents here ARE under a lot of strain for all the reasons you say - economic, schools, hospital and crime. Two of those have affected me directly.

I am a liberal Democrat, but what is quickly angering me is that a lot of the victims seem to think they have a sense of ENTITLEMENT from this city and its people- for money, for aid, for housing, for favors. And it only takes the abuses and idiotic behavior of a small segment to turn the tide against all.

This city stepped up to the plate in a time of national crisis to help our neighbors. But that doesn't mean this help should go on indefinitely.
Posted By Anonymous Bob R., Houston, Texas : 6:32 PM ET
I am a long time resident of Houston. Nineteen years to be exact. I cried when the hurricaines hit Louisiana because I felt so sorry for the people in Louisiana. I knew it could have been Houston. The hurricaine was tragic and our government's response was despicable. Shame on FEMA.

However, the crime rate in Houston since some Louisiana folks have migrated here has skyrocketed. Our police officers are overworked and exhausted trying to keep up. Alot of residents in certain parts of our city are putting up for sale signs because of this wave of crime. Louisiana students and Houston students are in the news daily because of violent fights.

Why isn't the government getting us more police officers to handle the extra residents? The people from Louisiana did not deserve to lose everything and be displaced. We were happy to open our arms. But this kind, great city of Houston does not deserve to be without enough police protection from the bad apples who are causing havoc on our city.
Posted By Anonymous Renae, Houston, Texas : 6:42 PM ET
I agree with Joe C. from Houston. I live about an hour and a half from Houston and I have seen the effects of having so many people added quickly to your population. Our little town took in a lot of evacuees after Katrina and Rita and we have suffered in some ways. There is a decrease in housing, employment, and more crime. I've seen on the news from Houston where there have been several incidents at Houston schools between Houston children and the evacuee children. We've also had certain incidents occur here. We are all overtaxed by the whole situation. What is going to happen to all of us in the end?
Posted By Anonymous Victoria, Lufkin, TX : 6:42 PM ET
Folks it's time to get off your butts and start helping yourself. The evacuees have been given food, shelter, furniture, clothing, and even cash and they need more? Housing and employment have been made available strictly for Katrina victims, where was that assistance for Houston's own? Houstonians are tired of watching over their shoulders, tired of the loitering, the crime, the gimme and you owe me attitude....go back home. You've overstayed your welcome.
Posted By Anonymous Lory -- Houston, Texas : 6:44 PM ET
I live in Huntsville, Texas located about 80 miles north of Houston. We took in a couple of thousand Katrina evacuees and were glad to do it. Churches, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville ISD, and even private citizens opened their doors to these people when they were in need. We sheltered them, clothed them, fed them, gave them medical attention, all out of the goodness of our hearts without complaint and with compassion. In the weeks after the disaster, Huntsville had a plan to get these people either on thier feet in Huntsville, or help them on thier way. It was made clear in the days after the disaster that the shelters and care they were given were temporary and any help needed would be provided to help be on thier way. The Key: the evacuaees had to have a plan, and quickly. Several apartment complexes waived the first month's rent for the evacuees, several organizations and private citizens around town offered to pay a few months' rent and provide furniture for evacuees that chose to make Huntsville their new home. Some organizations and the City of Huntsville also offered the alternative: a ticket, bus or plane, to anywhere a family member or friend may be waiting to give them a place to stay or any place a job might be waiting on them. Now, if a little town can organize this, and again the KEY here is, "What is YOUR plan to help YOURSELF back onto your feet?", why can't the federal governent offer the same kind of plan. I have compassion for these people, something similar could happen to any of us. But, the ball should be back in thier court--the deal should be this: We'll help, but you have to have a plan! Houston, get this in the national spotlight and keep it there until something is done. You shouldn't have to bear this burden of those who are taking advantage after being so kind. God bless all those who do need help and are willing to help themselves, and God bless all those who have been helping them along the way!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Huntsville, TX : 6:55 PM ET
I am a native Houstonian and volunteered at the Astrodome and GRB during the aftermath. Houstonians are known for their friendly attitudes and welcoming spirit. However, with the stories of evacuees buying Louis Vuitton purses at Neimans with their Red Cross debit cards, the extreme rise in violent crime and gang activity, school riots, basic disreguard for others. I find many of us are ready for them to go home.
My zip code took in some of the highest numbers in the city and in a subdivision that has never had a burglary in five years, now has had that many since September.
Posted By Anonymous Amy P. Houston, Texas : 6:58 PM ET
We need to highlight the people who actually have been proactive in the face of such a terrible disaster and are working things out to the best of their abilities to find jobs, housing, etc. This demographic represents the vast majority of victims and they get no credit. Unfortunately the media only focuses on the people with their hands out......which surprisingly these people more than likely were the same people with their hands out pre-Katrina in New Orleans. Houston has merely shouldered what was New Orleans problem to begin with at the expense of law abiding tax paying Houstonians and their safety (from the increased crime). In this case the reward forbeing a good Samaritan is to be raped by the very one's we are helping.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Houston TX : 7:02 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
I was wondering where you were last night. I missed you. You know as well as the rest of America that we strive in the face of adversity. Remember how we banned together for 9/11, the New York City blackout and these innumerable hurricanes we've had. We have no choice but to help each other. My college here in middle Ga. even offered our gym to house evacuees if they needed a place to sleep. Houston will be able to build and grow enough to accomodate the evacuees. It's beginning to look like not many are going to be returning to New Orleans anyway.
Posted By Anonymous Marilyn, Warner Robins, Georgia : 7:03 PM ET
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