"The Most Powerful Pages on the Planet"
Hurricane Ike Special Edition
September 16, 2008
Volume 1 - No.18
Darwin Campbell, Executive Publisher
A Bi-Weekly Publication
Houston's Real Problem:
Black residents feeling like “Castaways”
LoneStar Power Pages
“No phone, no lights no motor cars, not a single luxury, like Robinson Crusoe, as primitive as can be”
HOUSTON- Houston has a real problem.
Many of its African-American men, women and children are having Katrina nightmares.
Only this time, they are not trapped in the Big Easy, they are trapped on the island called Houston.
It is these set of circumstance affecting thousands of residents who feel they have been left high and dry in dozens of homes and neighborhoods in the south Houston area.
On the dark streets and from house to house, the questions citizens are asking are:
Where’s FEMA? Where’s the help from Houston city officials?
CenterPoint Energy reported it had restored power to 500,000 customers but about 1.6 million are still in the dark.
Since her electricity went off after Hurricane Ike struck, Ashlie Vinson has spent her time worrying about how to care for and feed her three kids.
Living in a hot apartment with no water and ice, Vinson and her children, ages 6, two and one, are eating the last of their pre-packaged foods, wearing the same clothes and are running low on diapers and other basic paper items.
“It seems like it is every man for himself,” she said. “I am very disappointed with FEMA, the Red Cross and city officials. No one cares what happened to us here.”
According to her, the number of break-ins and lawlessness is increasing as days go by and she fears for her safety and the safety of her children.
For her, life has stopped, but her frustrations are growing with others who feel that no one is concerned about their plight.
“It’s a tough road ahead and I am not optimistic,” she said.
Debria Brown said her neighborhood has gone from the first to the third world in a matter of hours after Ike.
“We have been waiting, but no one has contacted us,” she said. “It’s a real mess down here and many of us are running low on supplies, have no gas or transportation out of the neighborhood,”
According to Brown, she has only seen helicopters pass overhead, but has not seen or heard from any representatives of FEMA, The Red Cross or the city of Houston.
People in the community have banned together and started the clean up process and are sharing goods, but still have no where close to secure needed clean water and ice.
She also contends that the media focus is more on Galveston than on the plight of inner city residents who were told to stay put before the storm hit.
The help stations are too far away for many of us with many being as far away as 15 to 20 miles.
“We need help now,” she said. “We need help here now.”
Jillian Brown and Kelly Vinson said resources are in short supply in the Pearland area.
Vinson said panic set in after people had a difficult time finding gas, water, ice and food.
“No one is talking to us, not FEMA or city officials,” she said. “Basic words on radio or in front of television cameras won’t do. We need action now.”
As she waited in line at the Phillips 66 near Meacham and the airport, she was one of 75 people lined up to get gasoline and frustrated that more is not being done.
“It may not look as bad as (Hurricane) Katrina was, but we sure are being treated like the people of Kartrina,” she said. “The words of the day are hurry up and wait. Officials don’t know the meaning of help.”
In her community, neighbors have started on their own and are pitching in to clean up hoping that help will soon be on the way.
Food and water is in short supply in Joseph Demouchet’s neighborhood.
“Time is the main issue,” Demouchet said. “Right now, we are patient and living off what we have, but who knows how long that can last.”
In one neighborhood, some elderly residents living in assisted living are without power disabled and without oxygen – The city is yet to respond to their needs.
“This is unacceptable,” he said. “People should not have to live like this.”
Demouchet said waiting on FEMA and contacting them has been frustrating. Hours have been spent on the phone with little to no results. Even more frustrating than having no electricity is the lack of FEMA and Red Cross help stations that could provide a minimum amount of water and ice.
“We decided to pull it together ourselves,” he said. “If our government won’t help us, we decided to cooperate and help ourselves neighbor to neighbor.”