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Locals Forced To Rescue Homeless Harvey Victims At Greenspoint Mall Shelter

Posted On : October 6, 2017

While residents of the greater Houston area try to rebuild and recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, thousands were left homeless and have lived in shelters for weeks. Things went from bad to worse on Sept. 22 when some 500 people were moved from NRG Stadium to a former Macy’s department store in North Houston’s Greenspoint Mall. The transition has been described as disastrous. While millions of dollars have been donated to the Red Cross, residents say that the conditions in this shelter are inhumane.

‘Completely Sub-Par’

State Representative Shawn Thierry of District 146 toured the facility and shared her disgust with the lack of preparation via Facebook live. She captioned her post with just a few of the many problems that current residents still experience today.

“People are being transported from NRG in my District to a gutted out Macy’s Store in Greenspoint Mall as a shelter run by the Red Cross,” Thierry wrote. “Unfortunately it is completely sub-par. Hundreds of people were bused in this morning, saw only 2 porta-pottys out back, and by 3pm, there was still no hot lunch served, no fresh fruit, no milk or juice for the children. Instead, the well-funded Red Cross offered only warm CANNED water in those beer cans like during Hurricane Katrina.”

Poor Preparation! People are being transported from NRG in my District to a gutted out Macy's store in Greenspoint Mall set up as a shelter run by the Red Cross. Unfortunately it is completely sub-par. Hundreds of people were bused in this morning, saw only 2 porta-pottys out back, and by 3pm, there was still no hot lunch served, no fresh fruit, no milk or juice for the children. Instead, the well-funded Red Cross offered only warm CANNED water in those beer cans from Budweiser like during Hurricane Katrina. #RedCrossNeedsToExplain #SubPar #Harvey

Posted by Shawn Thierry on Friday, September 22, 2017

Throughout her nearly 19-minute broadcast, Thierry was approached repeatedly by volunteers and told that she couldn’t film people inside the shelter (she wasn’t). She suggested to them that they should be more concerned about the news cameras that were likely to show up later to report on the horrific conditions that evacuees were being forced to accept.

No Preparation

The Red Cross claimed that they were only given one day to get into the old Macy’s building and set the shelter up to receive the NRG evacuees. But no one is buying that excuse because of the resources available to the organization.

“The food, the vendor met with us and we were going to have immediate meals,” American Red Cross representative MaryJane Mudd said. “Unfortunately, the vendor didn’t show up and sometimes that happens. The same with the showers. We had a few to begin with but now we have new ones that are compliant with disability regulations.”

Where’s The Money?

Like many who have criticized the Red Cross, including Houston City Councilman Dave Martin who calls them ‘The Red Lost,’ local Houston-area residents are pleading with donors to send their money to other causes. Grassroots organizations and local activists have visited the Greenspoint shelter in the last few days and found evidence that complaints about the living conditions are valid.

There have been allegations of hostile police presence, daily threats of arrests and evictions, male officers searching female residents, lack of medical care, black mold inside the building (it took on flood water during Harvey), limited food and supplies, inadequate facilities, unsanitary conditions, and more. People want to know where the hundreds of millions of dollars in donations went.

Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Some of these local organizations went before the Houston City Council to report their findings and to plead with Mayor Sylvester Turner to help them get aid to the people. Even though the North Houston shelter is not run by the city, the residents are city taxpayers and deserve better. They had a small victory.

Originally the Red Cross said they would not accept donations on-site. But on Sunday, Oct. 8, the Houston Unity Tribe, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, the National Black United Front, and the New Black Panther Party along with other community members will unite to collect donations at the mall from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. for the residents. They have been approved to receive water, sanitary items, diapers, baby supplies, and new clothing, underwear, and shoes.

Posted by Taharqa Khepri on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This is a start, but there is still much work to be done. The intended recipients of millions of dollars of donations to the Red Cross are still suffering and they have every right to be treated like human beings while they rebuild. It is high time the organization be held accountable.

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