Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Message From Hizzoner

For A Democrat, He Ain't Half Bad...

September 6, 2005

To All City Employees:

Houstonians have been proud of our response to the victims of Katrina. Our region rose to the challenge of building a temporary city within a city to help folks get back on their feet.

Many City employees have worked heroically during the last week as part of these unprecedented efforts to provide food, clothing, medical care, hygiene, security, and housing for these new residents.

The performance of City employees has been unbelievable, and believe me, the competence and dedication of the City workforce has been noticed by all of the tens of thousands of other Houstonians engaged in the relief effort during the last week, along with thousands of public officials, volunteers and media from outside our region.

I need every single City employee to help in one critical way. Those without direct, assigned responsibilities for Katrina Relief, please do your job at “100%-plus” level. I have made a commitment to the citizens of Houston that we shall not allow our compassion to compromise the quality of services to existing residents of Houston. We are capable of doing this. If you volunteer all night and are too fatigued to undertake your daily tasks, eventually Houston residents will be shortchanged.

I believe there are over 150,000 survivors of Katrina who now live in private homes, hotels, motels and shelters in our region. The number in hotels alone exceeds the population of those residing at the Astrodome. Those within private homes and shelters are even greater still.

Today alone we are moving 1,200 of these residents into permanent apartments and homes. We have already begun this process. We expect that over 10,000 more will be relocated in permanent shelter where they can live with dignity and respect in less than two weeks. A virtual hospital was created at each of the two largest shelters. Each was constructed within 24 hours.

We accomplished this by empowering people to make decisions, and for cutting through red tape to get things done. Can you help me bring this attitude to every single thing we do every day so that our citizens will respect us for being the most efficient, responsive local government in the United States? Can you help me find how we can use the incredible volunteer energy of Houstonians to help each of us as public servants accomplish even more every day without displacing the critical role of fulltime public employees?

Each of us feels a greater pride than just a week ago in saying we work for this Administration in the City of Houston. For those of you, who have direct communications with Houstonians, please let your energy, friendliness, and diligence show through in every interaction we have during this next week. For those who work in operations supporting the front-line providers, please give it your extra effort every day in responding to 911 calls, 311 calls, getting needed paperwork done, finding ways to do more with existing resources.

Today we have established a new umbrella financial relief organization - Houston Katrina Relief Fund - it will be used as the umbrella agency by local civic and public leadership to make sure that reimbursement is received by the organizations that need it most on a timely basis. A bank account has been established at Wells Fargo Bank to accept donations at the following address: Houston Katrina Relief Fund, P.O. Box 4995 Houston, Texas 77210-4995. Additionally, a website, has been established that will be able to accept donations within the next 24-48 hours.

There are five locations where people can register in person with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Those are: Reliant Arena; Reliant Center; Astrodome; 2575 West Bellfort; and the George R. Brown Convention Center beginning September 7th. FEMA is attempting to put together mobile units to do registrations at various locations in town. Those locations and the status of that will be posted on the City’s website. People can also register with FEMA at , and can try telephone registration at 1.800.621.3362.

We also need your eyes and ears in scouting the locations of housing which may be suitable for living for some months for people who have had their shelter destroyed by Katrina. If you identify a location, please report this to the Katrina Housing Task Force at 713-437-6800, fax 713-437-6946, web address: e-mail address: or mailing address P.O. Box 61189, Houston, Texas 77208-1189.

It is my privilege to work with each of you.

Thank you,

Bill White