We hear that hundreds of people are leaving every day, but I've never seen them leave. And the stories I have to share are of heroic dedication to helping single evacuees-- volunteers spending hours with one person to get them out. Until today, the only sign I saw of the shrinking population was smaller crowds outside. But this afternoon I walked through gaping holes in the Astrodome cot fields, which would have been inconceivable a few days ago.
The number of volunteers has dropped too, so groups I helped with before have been asking me to come back, but I've been busy.
I've been working on a big information system, built by siderea and maintained by myself and E., a native Houstonian who lives in Carlisle, MA. We spent the weekend inputting all the information we could find, including fliers we picked up at information desks, updates from the Red Cross, and reports from individual (the only reliable source). Across the Astrodome complex, there are five different main information desks, and dozens of helping agencies, all of which get questions from evacuees, sporadic information updates from distinct sources, are constantly making internal changes, and nothing stays in the same place for more than a few days. Everything changes so fast, a bunch of people here are burnt out on information overload, and the Red Cross does everything by paper so it's totally unequipped to deal. Fortunately, there are over 400 computers here, and two-thirds are laptops, so the problem does have a technological solution. For the past two days, I've been spreading the information system around to the various groups (all of which have been very happy to see it). Now I just need to see if I can get any of them to help maintain it.
There's a disease going around we call "Astrodome flu". It lasts 48 hours, with symptoms like food poisoning, and volunteers are being sent home. Plenty of people have other things too (like those who share my sore throat, which is clearing up), and many of the rest of sleep-dep'd. But it's getting better.