MILES O’BRIEN: The record-setting flood has, of course, forced tens of thousands from their homes and into shelters.
Our P.J. Tobia has been talking to some of those displaced in Houston today.
P.J., this is a new shelter. Just describe the scene there for us.
P.J. TOBIA: Yes, sure, Miles.
This is the NRG Center. It’s a massive convention center and meeting hall in Southwest Houston. It has the capacity for 10,000 people. It has 900 evacuees in there right now. They are expecting 1,500 more evacuees sometimes later tonight.
When the doors opened last night and again this morning, some 3,000 Houstonians turned out to volunteer, to pitch in some way. Obviously, that was far more than they needed. But one man was kept around. His services were definitely required.
JOHNNY MANDOLA: We try and volunteer, give away food whenever we can. And I don’t own a boat. There’s nothing I can do watching on TV. But what we can do is help feed all these people inside.
MILES O’BRIEN: Obviously performing a very important task.
But give us a sense about all the other things those folks behind you need. Are they getting what they need?
P.J. TOBIA: Oh, absolutely.
As you walk in right behind me, there’s tables and tables and tables of food, toiletries, bedding, pretty much everything you could need. And there is a lot of need here. We spoke with one woman who is here with her seven children at the shelter tonight.
NARCEDALIA OSORIO: You know, they know that we have no house, lost everything. It is, for me — because I say, OK, baby, we’re OK. We’re together. And everything — we’re going to get back everything, but not even with — sad. They are sad.
MILES O’BRIEN: Do you have a sense, P.J., of where most of these people are coming from?
P.J. TOBIA: Sure.
First of all, of course, they’re coming from all around Houston and the broader region. The George R. Brown Center was another large venue in town that was filled to capacity some time yesterday.
So, they opened up this one. Some of these people are coming from primary evacuation centers, so they’re plucked from their house by boat or by car and taken to a local school or mosque or church. And then they’re brought to a place like this.
One woman we spoke with was actually evacuated twice, once when her home was inundated with six feet of water. She then escaped and was evacuated to her sister’s home, which then was put under mandatory evacuation when a chemical plant in her neighborhood had flooded.
SANDEISHYA LADAY: Basically, I just took all four of my children. I couldn’t take no clothes or anything. My mom was able to grab like her breathing machine and like all her medicines that she needed. We took maybe like one pair of clothes, which is what we had on.
P.J. TOBIA: Folks who are getting ready to bed down here for the night are looking forward to moving on from here, although they’re not sure exactly when that is going to be able to happen.
And there are still many more people coming here. As I said, earlier, we were driving around town today and just saw whole neighborhoods completely flooded, still very much inundated with water — Miles.
MILES O’BRIEN: It’s a very long road ahead.
P.J. Tobia in Houston, thank you very much.
P.J. TOBIA: Thank you.