Here we go again… AFP News is reporting that “Houston abandons its neediest ahead of Hurricane Rita.”
As the first winds of Hurricane Rita whipped at the power lines across the street, Virginia Lewis Mansfield huddled in a doorway with all her earthly possessions within arm’s reach.
Homeless for the past three years, Mansfield found herself on the streets of Houston Friday night as many of her usual shelters were closed ahead of the hurricane.
Police officers parked a few blocks away had few suggestions: there was one women’s shelter that might be open, or else she could ask at the police station nearby if it would be okay to sit in the lobby until the storm subsided.
But Mansfield had already tried the Salvation Army shelter.
“It’s full,” she said as she brushed her hair in front a soup kitchen door painted with the words “no trespassing or sleeping in doorway” in red capital letters.
“There’s nothing I can do,” the 44-year-old schizophrenic said, adding that she hadn’t eaten in two days.
One homeless man, Charles sat in a chair “on Chartres Street under the I-45 freeway,” questioning why the Astrodome was not opened up to the homesless…
“There’s a big baseball stadium right there how come they didn’t open it up?” he asked, pointing across the road. “They opened the Astrodome to help the people from Katrina, how come they won’t open it up for us?”
Houston “city officials chose not to publicly announce the locations of those shelters, leaving it instead to police and emergency workers to determine who needed to be taken there.”
“If you announced a shelter, what we would have had is people who were fearful would have rushed to the shelter and they would have been overwhelmed and the people on the streets would be crowded out,” Frank Michel, the communication director for the mayor’s office told AFP.
There is something tragically wrong with the mindset of this Nation, if city, state and federal officials abandon the helpless in the midst of a disaster.