Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

The Katrina Relief Effort in Houston Collection MSS.0127

Creator Katrina Relief Contributors
Title: Katrina Relief Effort in Houston Collection
Dates: 2005-2007, 2005
Dates (Bulk): Bulk, 2005
Identification: MSS.0127
Quantity: 1.4 Linear feet, 1 record storage box, 1 document storage box
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Historical Note

On August 29, 2005, the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history, with respect to personnel dislocation and property damage, struck the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. While the Galveston storm of 1900 was far deadlier, this storm caused disruption, physical destruction, and national dissatisfaction with all levels of government on a far greater scale. The estimated loss of life is 1,836 people with property damage in excess of $81 billion. Much of the devastation resulted when the levee system in New Orleans failed. A large portion of the city was flooded by up to nine feet of water filled with sewage, chemical products from flooded plants and refineries, and occasional drowning victims. This lake of refuse remained for days, leaving homes and businesses beyond repair, requiring many blocks of the city to be torn down and removed. This task continues as of this writing and will do so indefinitely. Over 120,000 people lost their homes within hours. Relief efforts by the local, state and national governments were at first frustratingly unresponsive, then late, uncoordinated, and finally inadequate. Horror stories of violence and crime, later determined as exaggerated, emitted from the Superdome in New Orleans and symbolized the chaos. People were driven to escape from New Orleans by whatever means possible, including an unlicensed youth who stole a school bus, drove several people to Houston, and became a short-lived national hero.

It was in the actions of the City of Houston and Houstonians that the nation found a significant measure of redemption. An ad hoc committee of businessmen, religious leaders, social agency directors and others headed by Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels worked tirelessly for weeks to coordinate a massive relief effort staffed by hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life. The Harris County Domed Stadium, better known as the Astrodome, on the south side of Houston’s downtown, became a massive dormitory without walls for the survivors as thousands of cots were set up on the main floor. Later, the George R. Brown Convention Center was put into service. As the 150,000 hurricane survivors arrived, security personnel checked identifications, weeding out those who might be a threat. Medical personnel diagnosed health problems, treated injuries, and administered vaccinations. Clothing contributed by area residents was distributed. People were fed. For the first time in days, survivors had access to sanitation facilities, clothing, food, medical attention, security from human predators, and even a small library, courtesy of the Houston Public Library. Efforts were made to reunite families and loved ones who had been scattered over thirty states from Arizona to Massachusetts without knowing who had survived much less where they were. There was little privacy and people had lost control of their lives, but only gratitude was expressed.

By the middle of September, the convention and sports venues were vacant as survivors were moved into hotels, apartments and vacant homes, usually paid for by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Relocation was expedited as another major hurricane, Rita, bore down on Texas and southwest Louisiana, making landfall on September 24, 2005, causing considerable property damage in east Texas and western Louisiana. The overall disruption caused by the two powerful storms will require extensive recovery efforts.

As of the processing of this collection, survivors continue to need assistance as many are without employment and thus cannot afford rent or other basics of life. FEMA continues to struggle with the housing situation and its own internal difficulties. The "welcome mat" in Houston has been worn thin by the demands of people upon social systems that were inadequate to meet the needs of Houston before Katrina. The answers remain over the horizon.

Scope and Contents

This collection is a series of records from various social agencies, the City of Houston, and other organizations that all made an effort to relieve the human and animal suffering of this disaster. It is an artificial collection in that these records were created by no one person or organization, but were gathered from various groups to partially explain how Houstonians by the hundreds assisted the many thousands of survivors, all strangers to one another. The havoc wreaked by the storm, while the cause of this massive effort, is of secondary concern to this collection. Newspapers describing the storm’s impact can be found in Series 5 and extensive coverage can be found in other media.

The Collection consists primarily of copies of correspondence, emails, newspaper articles, brochures, newsletters, photographs, web sites, and other items created between August 2005, and February 2007. Additional material may be added.


This collection is arranged by subject and format.
Series 1 - Government Assistance to Katrina Survivors
Series 2 - Private Agency and Corporate Relief to Katrina Survivors
Series 3 - Aftermath; Impact of Survivors and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
Series 4 - Hurricane Rita
Series 5 - Newspapers; 28 August 2005 - 20 September 2005


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Katrina Relief Effort in Houston papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Citizens for Animal Protection Society
Continental Airlines
Covenant House (Houston, Tex.)
Eckels, Robert, 1957-
Houston (Tex.). City Council
Houston Texans (Football team)
Interfaith Ministries (Houston, Tex.)
Muslim American Society (Houston, Tex.)
Salvation Army (Houston, Tex.)
Second Baptist Church (Houston, Tex.)
Star of Hope (Houston, Tex.)
United States. Federal Emergency Management Agency
White, Bill, 1954-
Young, Ed
Animal Shelters--Texas--Houston
City councils--Texas--Houston
Houston (Tex.). City Council
Hurricane Katrina, 2005

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The Katrina Relief Effort in Houston. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Acquisitions were made by contacting individuals and organizations with requests for information. Responses varied from those organizations responding in depth without prompting, to those who needed several reminders to a few who would not respond at all. Organizations were selected by their prominence in the relief effort, as they became known, and others that would not be considered mainstream. Newspapers were a ready source of information about ongoing events.

Processing Information

Processed by: Ron Drees, January 2007.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1 – Government Assistance to Katrina Survivors

Box Folder
1 1 Office of the Mayor; Correspondence; September, 2005 - October, 2005
2 Office of the Mayor; Correspondence; November, 2005 - January, 2006
3 Office of the Mayor; Press Releases; September, 2005 - November, 2005
4 Mayor, County Judge Honored; 2006
5 Schools; Discipline, Financing, Students; September, 2005 - March, 2005
6 Harris County; Building Codes; October, 2005
7 Harris County Citizen Corps; Web Page Printouts; 20 Sep 2005
8 Harris County Judge Robert Eckels; Interview; 2005
9 Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults; Families, Reunited; 2005
10 Houston Public Library, Library Service to Katrina Survivors; September, 2005 - November, 2005
11 Tax Relief, Increased Collections; Suspension of Occupancy Tax, 2005
12 Texas Decision Making, Editorial; 2005
13 Federal Emergency Management Agency; Criticism, Funding, Housing, September, 2005 - January, 2007
14 Response, Emergency, Federal; Criticism; 2006
15 Hurricane Katrina Relief, Reimbursement; Texas’ Needs; Federal Spending, 2005-2006

Series 2 - Private Agency and Corporate Relief to Hurricane Katrina Survivors

Box Folder
1 16 Adventist Community Services; Donation Process, Items and Locations; 2005 2005
17 American Red Cross; Greater Houston Area Chapter; Newsletter; 2005
18 Assistance to Animals, General; 2005
19 Catholic Charities; Assistance, Donations; 2005
20 Citizens for Animal Protection, Web Site Printout, 2005
21 Continental Airlines; Evacuation, Resettlement, PetSafe Evacuation; 2005
22 Covenant House; Assistance to Youths; 2005
23 Donations Needed; Survivors; 2005
24 First Baptist Church, Worship Services; 2005
25 Fundraising; Houston Katrina/Rita Fund, Texas Care, Fundraisers; 2005
26 Good Fellows; Christmas Needs; 2005, 2006
27 Hurricane Katrina Relief Projects; Web Site; Volunteer and Donation Requests; 2005
28 Houston Relief Agencies, General; 2005
29 Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Web Site, Reunions; 2005
30 Individual Aid Efforts; “Drop Yer Drawers,” 2005
31 Interfaith Ministries; Neighbors2Neighbors; Emails, Presentation; 2005 - 2006
32 Jewish Congregations; Assistance to Survivors, Holy Services; 2005
33 Joint Hurricane Housing Task Force; Web Site Home Page; 2005
34 Muslim Hurricane Relief Task Force; Articles, Press Releases; 2005 - 2006
35 Neighborhood Centers, Inc.; Furniture for Survivors; 2005
36 Presbyterian Children’s Homes & Services; Newsletter; 2005
37 Salvation Army; Artifact, Apron; 2005
38 Salvation Army; Commentaries; 2005
39 Salvation Army; Emails and Talking Points; 2005
40 Salvation Army; Local News Releases, Newspaper Articles; 2005
41 Salvation Army; Statistics and Reports; 2005
42 Salvation Army; Territorial Statistics; 2005
43 Second Baptist Church; Magazine, Volunteer Training; 2005
44 Star of Hope; Katrina Impact Upon Seasonal Donations, Press Release; 2005
45 Tax Reductions; 2005
46 United Way; Post-evacuation Assistance; 2006
47 Volunteers; Articles, Training; 2005

Series 3 – Aftermath; Impact of Survivors and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Box Folder
1 48 Business Impact; Cancellations, Closings, Cost Increases, Opportunities, Repair Work; 2005
49 Crime; Survivors as Victims and Perpetrators; 2005 - 2006
50 Dismissal of Call-Takers; n.d.
51 Houston’s Image After Katrina; Articles; 2005
52 Katrina and Rita; Retrospective in Pictures and Words; 2005 - 2006
53 Medical Expenses; 2005
54 Planning and Evacuation; 2005
55 Sports; Games, Teams, Fans; 2005
56 Survivors; Changes in Public Tolerance, 2006
57 Survivors; Employment, Difficulties and Successes; 2005 - 2006
58 Survivors; Oral History Project; 2006
59 Survivors; Recovery, Resettlement, Restart, Return; 2005 - 2006
60 Survivors; Return to New Orleans; 2005
61 Survivors; Scattered Throughout the U.S.; 2005
62 Survivors; Uninsured; Strain on System; 2005
63 Letter, Meal of Kindness, Thanks for Houston’s Support; 2006

Series 4 -- Hurricane Rita

Box Folder
1 64 Community Aid to Rita Victims; 2005
65 Rita; Damage in Texas, Losses; 2005
66 Rita; Damage in Southwest Louisiana, 2005
67 Rita Evacuation; Casualties, Analysis; 2005
68 Rita; Infrastructure Threat; 2005

Series 5 - Newspapers; 29 August 2005 – 20 September 2005

Box Folder
2 1 Katrina Approaches, Newspaper Article; 28 August 2005
2 Newspapers, 29 Aug 2005 - 3 Sep 2005
3 Newspapers, 4 Sep 2005 - 9 Sep 2005
4 Newspapers, 10 Sep 2005 - 15 Sep 2005
5 Newspapers, 16 Sep 2005 - 20 Sep 2005