Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What's It Like at the Houston Astrodome

I'll be honest. Life feels very different right now. It feels different when you drive by the Houston Astrodome five days a week to go to work. And inside your mind you are well aware that they are there. The evacuees. The terrified mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. Kids, so many kids, that fled for their lives from the effects of a hurricane that no one will soon forget. And so...your heart is torn. And you feel numb. And you want to see for yourself. And you say your prayers. And you drive down South Main and make a right turn on McNee street. You slowly drive through the gates of the great Reliant Park, the complex that houses Reliant Stadium (where the Texans play football), Reliant Arena, Reliant Center, and the now famous shelter, the Astrodome. You walk in and you shiver. It looks just like it does on CNN. Yet it doesn't. It feels more real. You smell the water. The after effects of that water that changed so many lives. You see the people. So many black folks. Some walk as if their mind is so far away. You wonder what they are thinking. You want to be friendly and smile, but you don't want to offend anyone. You see so many men. They walk with a swagger; they strut in a way that lets you know they don't want to be there. They are proud. They are strong. They don't want to believe they are displaced, away from their home, maybe disconnected from their families. You can hear it in their voices, you can see it in their eyes. They are hurt. They are mad. Breakfast is being served. Twinkies. Cold cereal. Granola bars. Donuts. Where are the grits? The sausage? I'm from Louisiana. I can't eat this stuff. You nod and laugh. You don't blame them for wanting a hot meal. But they are still thankful, polite. Some want coffee, but there's none to be had. I'm not sure why. The people try to keep up their spirits. If you ask their name, their eyes enlarge, as if they're shocked anyone would care enough to want to know them. Some don't want to talk; they look down, and mumble. But others, they give you a smile, they'll ask how it is to live in Houston. They'll make small talk, but then they move on. To where, I don't know. There are many TV monitors structured throughout the Dome. MTV, the news, all kinds of channels. Some folks are trying to sleep in a facility where the lights never go out. So you see crumpled bodies lying in cots with blankets covering their head. You see a kid now and then (on the 4th floor), but you know most of the kiddies are on the ground level. Just like on TV. You want to tell people to have a nice day, but that sounds so stupid. So meaningless. And you pray for these people. That they won't be there in the Dome for long. You pray that their families will be found. You pray that the peoples' lives will be restored. You pray that they will smile again with genuine joy. You pray this nightmare will soon be over. Because life feels so very different right now.

9 comments:

Monica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Monica said...

Great post, Cydney. It gives the flavor of what the survivors are experiencing now better than a lot of what I'm reading in the media.

(I deleted the other post, because my fingers were going faster than my mind and I mangled your name).

CydneyR said...

Monica,
I don't mind the misspelled name. :) I knew what you meant.
The media tends to report the same stories over and over again, especially if it includes some drama. Like people being raped, etc., at the Dome. I haven't seen any drama, to be honest. Maybe I wasn't in the right spot. The people are really nice. You want to hug them. They want to hug you too. One guy kissed me on my neck today. That was funny/surprising. They just want to be loved. They are REAL people, just like your next door neighbors or co-workers. And people really do care; that's the good thing. So hopefully something profoundly wonderful will happen from all of this. I KNOW it's gonna happen.

Frederick Smith said...

Thanks Cydney for a great post. I often wondered what it's like for Houston residents to welcome so many newcomers to their town. I appreciate you giving us a real view of what's happening inside the dome.
fs

VAR said...

Beautiful and touching post Cydney... I have family in Houston and the ones that have visited the Astrodome tell me the same thing and others that drive by feel the pain and the wanting for things to get better. Thanks for sharing.. WarmBlessings, Anthony *

Butta said...

Thanks for this firsthand account, Cydney. It puts an even bigger human stamp on things. Wow.

Trisha Thomas said...

Cyd,
I'm glad you've touched lives. You have an essence about you that speaks warmth and love. I feel so helpless here in California. Everyone has up GIVE TO KATRINA VICTIM signs in every store window. I have donated money but it seems so useless when what they truly need is to be back on their feet working and in their homes. You hit the nail on the head, they want their own lives back. Keep doing what you're doing.
God bless,
your friend, Trisha

CydneyR said...

Hey Trish, V Anthony, Butta, Fred. :) Thanks for posting. There is some good news - a lot of people are moving out of the Dome into houses or apartments. People have been extremely generous, giving cars, furniture, food, amazing. I think the folks are happy to get their own place, but some are still worried about family members. It's like a new home means nothing if your 18-month-old child is MIA. So please pray that everyone will find their loved ones. Then the happy ending can be a reality. Thanks again peeps! :)

Fathers Day Gift Baskets said...

If you want more information you should check out the Reliant Arena, Houstona website, they have info about Reliant but also about all the other event centers.