The rate of evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi living in three large Houston shelters is declining from more than 27,000 a week after the hurricane to just under 5,000. Many local Asian Pacific Americans have sheltered many APA evacuees, including the large Vietnamese and Chinese American communities from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
Gordon Quan, Houston City Councilman and older brother to San Francisco sportscaster Rick Quan, has been organizing assistance to the new APA Houstonians.
“There has been a great community spirit, everybody wanting to help,” said Quan. “The challenge has been to organize this effort where it doesn’t replicate or duplicate duties and be effective in meeting the people’s needs.”
Some people lined up for three hours to volunteer and help.
“Some of those lines would stretch out for three blocks. We’ve had churches that were overflowing with people who were going through training,” he said.
At Hong Kong Mall, one of Houston’s largest Asian malls, food, clothing and petty cash are distributed.
“We’ve set up a health clinic and counseling for those people who need mental counseling,” he continued on. “We’ve also been working together with other Asian groups like the Pakistanis, Filipinos, Cambodians, and the Thai community. It’s been sometimes frustrating and sometimes gratifying. Everybody wants to work and help, but oftentimes, each wants to do their own thing.”
However, a website helps with coordination by being a common source of job and housing information through the Asian Pacific American Heritage Association. The Chinese Community Center received $10,000 from the United Way to help resettle APAs. Because Chinese aren’t coming to the CCC, the center is sharing some money with other more needy communities.
Refugees are finding friends or relatives to stay with. Quan predicts that many of the evacuees will demonstrate in Houston that they won’t be needing help for long.
“The Vietnamese community has reached out to them to try to place them with families here in Houston,” said the councilman.