Houston's Religious Communities Scramble to Help Evacuees
As the flood of 100,000 New Orleans evacuees continued into Texas' biggest city, what may well have been Houston's most religiously diverse gathering with a purpose took place Thursday morning.
The sanctuary of Second Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the country, filled with Christians from mainline, evangelical, and Pentecostal denominations, plus those from other faiths, including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Bah'ai, and Unitarians.
Their sole order of business: Feeding the 25,000 homeless, destitute evacuees, many of whom had earlier taken shelter in New Orleans' Superdome and were brought to the city in expectation of being housed in Houston's Astrodome. Many are the poorest of New Orleans' poor. Many will never go back to Louisiana because they have nothing to go back to. Meanwhile, groups such as the Red Cross won't help match evacuees with Houston residents who offer housing because they are concerned about liability.
Second Baptist member Jack Little broke the bad news: "There is no money to do this, folks. There is no federal money available to handle this emergency in Houston." Nor is city, county, or state funding available.
With most of New Orleans flooded, emergency officials won't let anyone back into the devastated city for weeks or months. Many of those who rode out the hurricane were too frail to evacuate New Orleans, had no car to leave in, or had no place to go outside the city. After Katrina passed, New Orleans seemed to have avoided major damage. Then the levees broke. Within three hours, the below-sea-level city was feet-deep in water.
Those who had jobs are unemployed indefinitely. Many who weren't penniless before the storm are now.
So Second Baptist's pastor Ed Young called on Houston's ...