(Blogger's Note: Since I am still in residing in Austin due to my home being without electricity, I visited the Austin Convention Center to interview Hurricane Ike victims. There were alot of youth. Here is an excerpt of the report I wrote for the Final Call Newspaper plus exclusive photos!)
‘I want to go home’
Hurricane Ike victims faced with psychological aftermath
Report by Jesse Muhammad
AUSTIN, Texas—The capital of Texas has become the temporary home to several thousand people who escaped the deadly threat of Hurricane Ike. Although they have been received with open arms, the psychological impact is starting to take its toll on a lot of them especially the youth.
A depressed 14-year-old Briana Parson of Galveston told the Final Call “it is so tough being here. It is very stressful. There is nothing to do here but sit and wonder about what happened.”
She is presently residing at the Austin Convention Center with her mother and over 1200 other people. The downtown complex in part has been turned into a command center for relief workers and assistance. To the left you will see people lining the walls at the communication station to make phone calls to love ones they were separated from, FEMA, food stamp agencies, insurance companies, or employers to get some mental relief.
Galveston resident Joshua Blanks logged on to his hometown’s main website and saw that his home was completely destroyed. To add to it, he sits and makes call after call trying to reach his mother and sister who stayed back in the face of the approaching Ike.
But their cell phones are down.
“I am so worried about my sister and mother. My mother refused to leave, so my sister would not let her stay alone. I don’t know if they are alive”, said Mr. Blanks to the Final Call. “I must applaud the people of Austin because they have taken good care of us.”
Mr. Blanks, along with his wife, daughters, nieces and grandchildren got approved by FEMA to be housed in a local Hilton Hotel for the next 30 days. He says within that time frame he will “try to make something happen. I really don’t know my next move but I know that God is in control of everything that has happen.”
The convention center also has a children’s play area filled with toys, video games and sports activities. A trailer, situated to the back of the hall, houses the cold showers and adults watch constant news reports on flat screens along with updates on key phone numbers, recovery efforts, and a timeline for them to return home. There are also lines for basic hygiene kits and food.
Ms. Atkins of La Marque, Texas hopped on a charter bus sent in from San Antonio with her daughter and two grandchildren just before Ike hit landfall. “I got on that bus without one dime in my pocket. I came here broke”, she said to the Final Call.
She and her family were station at two different schools before finally settling at the downtown complex. “Next time I am really going to prepare myself, especially with cash on hand. Being here is stressful and we are just awaiting the word that we can return home.”
Her 16-year-old daughter, Ashley Atkins, is a sophomore at La Marque High School and says “I want to be a nurse and one day I want to be on the other side of this disaster helping people as a registered nurse.”
The Aftermath continues....See Pics below and watch YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3VeAac4Yh8