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George R. Brown Serves Again

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The George R. Brown Convention Center transformed itself from expo center into a shelter for those affected by Ike. Fortunately, things seemed to go a bit smoother than when Katrina landed plenty of survivors on our shores.

Ike brought some 1,600 people, arriving from varied locales and different area shelters. “People have come from smaller shelters set up at schools like Lamar, Yates, and the Star of Hope center that lost power or water and had to be moved” said GRB Division Manager John Harris. “Setup went pretty smooth and we haven’t run into any major problems as of yet."

People of all walks arrived to seek refuge, including John Shannon, who came in after he and neighbors lost electricity at his Airline Drive complex. “Friday the lights went out and we had some special needs individuals with us. Some are on oxygen tanks and my friend has diabetes and has to eat. We called the power company and they said the lights would be off for four weeks. We decided we should just leave for our own safety.”

Others inside the convention center had harrowing tales of riding out Ike outdoors. Some of Houston’s homeless didn’t make it to a safe place in time.

Photos by Brett Koshkin

Unfortunately, Ferrell Fontenette felt the wrath of Ike more than some. “I got caught up in the drizzle, then the sky opened. POW! Lightning, I’ve been through a couple, Alicia was bad but that was the worst there’s ever been” he said.

According to Fontenette, he found himself riding out the storm with nothing more than a trash bag for shelter, sitting in a small outdoor space in the St. Joseph Professional building. “I heard this large crack sound, a noise I’ve never heard before and I couldn’t move. The worst noise I’ve ever heard in my life, all I had was this plastic bag.”

Brett Koshkin

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