As requested, here are some details about that state of things here at the most expensive relief effort in history. Tell me if it's useful and interesting. Should I put sustained effort into blogging about the situation down here? I'm aware of one other blog, http://texasctcs.blogspot.com/, which is updated quite frequently.
Let me start with some demographics: I'd guess 95% of the evacuees are colored, about 75% of the volunteers are white, and 95% of the volunteers are from the greater-Houston area. Of the political discussions I've been privy to, three or four were among the volunteers and all those were inspired by disgruntlement with Bush; two were with non-volunteer Houstonians, one a Bush disgruntlement and the other disgruntlement at the evacuees and their "feelings of entitlement".
The configuration of the Astrodome changes daily. Agencies are moved around, sections of the buildings are repurposed, and outside agencies change their levels of presence. But people are leaving daily (we're down to less than 9000), so I guess they have to be. Rumor has it that they want everyone out by the 18th (which, if it happens, gives me two days to explore Houston!).
Responsibility is given very quickly. At three days, I'm no longer a newbie. I expect to achieve veteran status within the next couple of days. Communication is dreadful. There are multiple organizations handling the same services, without any contact between them. Everyone has a different idea of what's needed.
But by and large, the necessities work fine. The evacuees are usually happy (children playing, adults smiling) or angry, but I don't see crying or great extended frustration. Food is very plentiful, and mostly clean. Packaged food is almost always available (I missed lunch and dinner, but I still was able to collect a full meal at 9 pm), and good ol' Aramark caters the rest. In particular, canned and bottled water and other drinks are always nearby and easy to get.
The evacuees are grateful to us, but unhappy with their lack of freedom, control, and knowledge.
So anyway, come on down-- it's a blast! Volunteer opportunities are endless and diverse, and the Youth Hostel here has plenty of space at $14.95 a night!