Sunday, September 04, 2005

This letter from a lady in San Antonio is a reality check on the situation there.

San Antonio: When the Astrodome started to totally be unable to take
victims on Friday the 2nd, that afternoon and night, the busses
destined for Houston ---started heading directly here or to Dallas and
rolling in here from Houston started constantly coming in by the hour.
Our mayor went on TV Thur and Fri and said there would be possibly
25,000 coming in from every victim areas, his first assessment. The
first place they filled were two schools and a large empty Toyota
building with 3,000 and more people during Friday night. On Saturday
night our residents were told that 8,000 were here in several "arena
style" locations and expected it to be 13,000 by sunup this morning.
If buses don't find anything in Houston, they automatically head for
San Antonio or Dallas.

From the last thing I checked last night I would "guess-demate" that
there are no less than 15,000 victims here now, with around 3,000 in
various motels and many other places that are setting up and accepting
arena shelter, or large empty stores or smaller organizations
accepting around 200 or more people. They started to transform an
almost empty (but very modern and nice) 2 story Mall that will hold
several thousand people very soon. It is Windsor Park Mall at I-410 at
Walzem in a suburb in NE San Antonio, just a few exits from I-10 from
Houston.. They said opening it--- might start today (but check out
when), it's near NE I-35 and Loop 410, coming into town from I-10 from
the east people would head north when they hit Loop 410 as if they are
going toward North I-35. They may open another large and mostly empty
older Mall on the south side of the city called McCreyless Mall on an
I-37 exit, but haven't seen any local evidence yet that they are
transforming it yet to help.

Last night I became outraged about what happens when WE are in this
city try to call to put people in our homes. 211, the main emergency
flow number we are told to dial, were telling citizens here on the
phone they would not place people in homes because of some LIABILITY
problem. When any San Antonio resident calls 211 often it is not a
local number 211 number here at all.. I got 211 answers from people in
other cities like Austin, Amarillo etc. who said they were taking in
abundance of calls from citizens in San Antonio to relieve the phone
lines in San Antonio to help or house victims. Even the phone number
that KENS5 TV station gave out for those who wanted and could provide
shelter in specifically private homes, gave a phone number
210--477-6789 with an unbelievable message--all Saturday evening which
said "We are closed" This number was televised by them on both Sat
6p.m. and 10p.m newscasts. When calling a majority of numbers here to
try to get victims for our homes--- almost all numbers are DEADENDS.

Local information lines are almost always all recordings. We are
having difficult communication problems about sheltering people and
getting them out of those larger crowded and also uncomfortable
shelters. At the drugstore I asked and was told by pharmacists that
they PROBABLY are not settling people into homes most likely for fear
of spread and risk of disease or until victims could be "processed"
and "checked out" at major shelters first and that could be the

At first the mayor said we were going to put people in a building type
hanger at Kelly Air Force base, totally unairconditioned so they
switched people to a large empty Toyota building during the day on
Saturday. They started off with two large schools first, early last
Thur with the first batch that came here, and I saw on local TV that
at Davis Middle School was now empty and closed because relatives of
those there had been taken in, but rumors were that they just sent
them to other larger arena style shelters. There is a huge
communication hazard here. The media has had ongoing "Call Centers"
for money donations and have collected an enormous
amount of money. While offering living space for victims, they are
saying donating money is the best way to help. There are several other
places which are large structures which have taken in up to 1,000 and
one for sure with about 6,000 peopleā€”on Saturday--- all on cots
"arena" style, now with no less than 13,000 victims now here. There
are approximately 3,000 families in area Motels and Hotels here that
are not fully occupied and these folks drove in with their own
vehicle. The
folks who came in by car are 1,000 times more comfortable that those
poor victims in shelters. The other 12,000 approximately are relieved
to be in the largest and most crowded shelters. These victims do not
realize yet, that staying in a shelter for days or weeks is extremely
exhausting and degenerating. They will not recover from this in
massive cot-to-cot locations.

There is definitely a lot of racial discrimination going on here. When
I contacted motels and hotels you could tell that there was sort of a
"weeding out" information on who to tell of their vacancies. I live in
the Medical Center in the NW side here and the 16 large hospitals are
securing whole sections or floors for victims and they are
distributing people equally among them. University Hospital says as of
yesterday they are treating about 100 victims every 6 hours and moving
patients into portions of the rest of these hospitals here. The
medically endangered ones are flown by air or helicopters. University
Hospital -University Health Science Center here on the Northwest side
is normally the place all San Antonio emergency victims go to, in any
situation, under normal circumstances.

In trying to find a victim to house, it is just a major dead end
situation here. Spending hours on the phone and signing up on websites
leads to recordings and "contact us" mails. I was even was told just
to drive around and look for car tags of people in hotels and motels
and tape notes to their cars. There are so many with no cars, before
and after the fact.

(The KatrinaHelp Team)
+15042081564 -- local to Tulane, LA
24hrs/day & International