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You're welcome in Houston, and here's why

An open letter to the evacuees who have found themselves in Houston:

Welcome to Houston. You have been through a lot in the past few days, and the people of this city are eager to help ease your burden in any way we can.

You are probably completely discombobulated in any number of ways, as well as worried about your home, your family and friends, your future.

You needn't worry, however, about being in Houston.

Houston isn't New Orleans. We know that. Nobody ever comes to Houston for the ambience. (Your big airport is called Louis Armstrong. Ours is called George Bush. That kind of sums it up.) But Houston is an extraordinarily friendly and generous place. People will strike up a conversations with you on absolutely no pretext and tell you all about their crazy daughters-in-law and their favorite methods of smoking meat, and they have quite lovely, soft ways of rolling vowels around in their mouths like melting ice cream. You will find the people make you feel more at peace, almost instantly.

Now, you will find it confusing that this is called the Bayou City. It turns out there are bayous in places besides Louisiana. It's counterintuitive, but nevertheless so. Buffalo Bayou -- that's the one downtown -- is a wonderful name, kind of Western and Southern at the same time, like Houston.

Also, please, if you're staying at the Astrodome, don't worry that you're putting anybody out. Really. We've been trying to figure out what to do with that thing anyway. (We love it but it's sort of like an old blender, y'know? You hate to keep it, you hate to throw it out.) The baseball games have all gone downtown, and actually, if you're looking for work, you could maybe play for the Astros. If meeting Roger Clemens makes you feel so shy you can't hit a baseball, you would fit right in with the team. The football team plays next door to the Astrodome. They will, I hear, go 9 and 7. Not bad, but not worth knocking yourself out for.

We hope you get a chance to get out and see Houston, but that's almost impossible without a car, because this is the City that Dead Dinosaurs Built. We love our fossil fuels like they were iced tea. You can drive and drive for 70 miles or so, from a nice beige house with a pool in the 'burbs, past strip malls and strip clubs, into neighborhoods that look a bit like Mexico and a neighborhood that gave birth to a special kind of hip-hop music, through the imposing and slightly gaudy downtown, into a neighborhood where rainbow flags actually outnumber Lone Star flags, past boutiques Paris wouldn't be ashamed of, and eventually wind up at a nice beige house with a pool in a suburb that looks exactly like the one you left 70 miles back. That's Houston.

There is also a tiny train running right through a little bit of the city, which you could take down to Hermann Park, where you would see trees and things not too dissimilar to the live oaks and living history in your home city. Go there and enjoy our museums, which really are among the glstening jewels of this town.

Anyway, we just want to open our arms to you, our guests. This is a big city, all spread out and jumbled up and not easy to grasp in a day or two. We don't expect you to embrace it the way you do your home. We just hope you like it here.

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What makes me mad about this whole thing is that many Houstonians have tried to help the people at the AstroDome by bring food and other things but when they get there they are told to leave and that they can not offer food. How do you guys feel about this?

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They should at least have a place where people can drop off food or other goods. Over all, I think they are doing a very good job at the astrodome-so far! Btw, San Antonio is going to start welcoming people from New Orleans. My guess is they will be housed in the Alamodome. Thank goodness we (San Antonio & Houston) have huge domed stadiums!

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Are Dallas and Austin helping out also? I know my home town Bryan/College Station have quite a few people here.

I had to go to Bush Intercontennetal Airport today and I noticed a few Louisianna licence plates and alot of them had there backseats stuffed with suitcases and clothes. I also saw a few beggers from New Orleans with signs near the airport. Thats when it really hit me that this is real. You can't really imagine how real it is untill you see the people.

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What makes me mad about this whole thing is that many Houstonians have tried to help the people at the AstroDome by bring food and other things but when they get there they are told to leave and that they can not offer food. How do you guys feel about this?

I feel those people should take their donations to the Red Cross or another shelter. The Dome has an elaborate plan for feeding the refugees...Aramark, who has the concession contract, will feed them three meals a day. There is no provision for making use of the donations. In fact, it would make it harder.

But, there are more than 20 other shelters in the area. There's room to give somewhere else.

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Am I the only that thinks that the poor people (dome people) transferred from the Super to the Astrodome pretty much will have nothing with them and will not be surfing the internet anytime soon?

i think it was meant more for us then for them, and to urge us to show what type of city we are. for what its worth, i think it was well written.

even if the refugees do have internet, i doubt they are HAIF members.

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i think it was meant more for us then for them, and to urge us to show what type of city we are. for what its worth, i think it was well written.

even if the refugees do have internet, i doubt they are HAIF members.

Speaking of which, we DO have a couple of New Orleans residents as HAIF members. Has anyone seen any posts from these guys? JWR was one of them.

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Speaking of which, we DO have a couple of New Orleans residents as HAIF members.  Has anyone seen any posts from these guys?  JWR was one of them.

JWR has not posted since the storm hit. His last post was Friday, August 26th.

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I feel those people should take their donations to the Red Cross or another shelter.  The Dome has an elaborate plan for feeding the refugees...Aramark, who has the concession contract, will feed them three meals a day.  There is no provision for making use of the donations.  In fact, it would make it harder.

But, there are more than 20 other shelters in the area.  There's room to give somewhere else.

my business was asked by FEMA to help with making food for these people

15,000 to be done by today and tomorrow (total of 15,000)

150 Boxed lunches to be on Saturday

I think the only thing I get out of this is maybe extra pay and knowing I helped a little :)

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my business was asked by FEMA to help with making food for these people

15,000 to be done by today and tomorrow (total of 15,000)

150 Boxed lunches to be on Saturday

I think the only thing I get out of this is maybe extra pay and knowing I helped a little :)

Is there anything that your company may need donation wise? If so, where can my friends and family back ther help out?

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We didn't finish the job today (sorry it was 5,000 sandwiches not 15,000)...b/c we didn't have enough ham. the women who get in usually at 5 AM were in at 3 AM to do our food and this special order. We didn't finish until about 4 PM. Its a small business we run. but we usually put food in convience stores, employee lounges, and wholesale like pickles for "Kenny and Ziggy's", we were doing Katz's for a while, Khan's Deli, etc...

(i guess deli's that start with "K") ;)

thanks for the offer, but I don't make the decisions :(

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I found out today that we will be making food for these people for the next 2 weeks! Its great for them but seriously its killing my back to bend over and repeatly do this job over and over again. Also very tiring.

I think at most they want 350,000 over the next weeks.

Right now we made ham sandwichs dry (with no cheese or mayo/mustard)

tomorrow is I think 250 boxed lunches (I really don't want to participate in)

I need the money but I need my health as well.

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The Greater Houston Restaurant Association has also been in contact with many restaurants in the Houston area to help out with provisions for the weary storm survivors now staying at not just the Dome, but also at all the Red Cross and Salvation Army shelters. Also, many of the area churches located near these shelters are helping out with daily meals. It's been a big group effort.

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I decided NOT to work tomorrow (Sat) and NO WAY do I want to see those annoying little ham sandwiches! oy!

Now we're doing food for George R. Brown where some of the refugees are.

We need at least 75,000 food by Weds of next week.

My dad wanted to raise his business production but this is NOT what he had in mind!

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Oprah will be in Houston tommorow. So many celebrities are coming down there everyday.

What makes me mad is that these benifit concerts they will be having will be in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. Why Atlanta??? Houston is the fourth largest city not Altanta. Also Houston is where the people are. I am so tired of the city of Atlanta, they always try to get credit for everything. Like CNN hardly ever mentions the people that have come to Houston, But Fox News talks about Houston all day long since this and how good the city is. Insted CNN talks about people who evacuated to Atlanta. How stupid and self centered CNN is just to benifit its home city.

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Atlanta has a large metropolitan area, and it has one of the two airports considered to be the busiest in the world. It also has CNN's headquarters and Delta Air Lines' headquarters. Also The Home Depot is based out of an unincorporated suburb of Atlanta.

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CNN and the Weather Channel have always been that way. There can be a tornado in Kansas killing a dozen people, but a severe thunderstorm that ties up traffic in Atlanta will get covered instead.

I saw on CNN yesterday that Dr. Phil is at the Astrodome. Thank goodness. Everything is going to be all better now. Dr. Phil: "You see here... the problem is not that you're homeless... lost yer haus.. lost yer dawg.. lost yer job.. lost yer weyefe. The problem is that yer fat and have no self-esteem. No come on and give the doctor a hug."

Yeah. It's all better now.

As for benefit concerts in other cities, that might be a logistics thing. Most of the free-lancers who would normally help out on that sort of thing are occupied supporting the television and radio coverage. Most of the equipment is in use for states and states around, and the equipment that went in first has been running so long without maintenance that its starting to break. I know some companies are bringing in cameras and personnel from as far away as Indianapolis. There's lots of spare equipment in places like New York and Los Angeles. In the nation's midsection, not so much.

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When I've been watching CNN the last few days there's been a lot of coverage from Houston, with reporters doing live broadcasts from the Astrodome and GRB. I've seen a lot more reporting on CNN from Houston than Atlanta -- in fact, I can't say I really remember any Atlanta stories. I haven't really noticed any anti-Houston bias, nor do I really care.

As for the benefit concert thing, I'm not really worried by that. Fine, let people who are over 1,000 miles away from the disaster feel like they're doing something by going to a concert and having part of the ticket price donated to relief efforts. That's what they can do; they aren't in a city housing over 100,000 refugees that need food, clothing, and personal hygiene items. Here people are in the trenches, working long shifts to make sure that our visitors are taken care of. I'd much rather be involved in working directly with the people affected by the disaster than going to a concert.

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Here people are in the trenches, working long shifts to make sure that our visitors are taken care of.

And "here" can also mean right here on this forum. There are several HAIFers who are up to their elbows helping out, and I think those of us who cannot help owe them all a great debt of gratitude.

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