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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fact straightening

Reliant City is transforming again. Rumor is that the Red Cross will condense refugees down to just the Astrodome by this weekend. We're flexible about setting up shop, and will follow the kids. The main exhibition space is vast: 706,000 sq ft. In SF each wing of Moscone North and South is 442,000 sq ft. Numbers of people living in the Reliant Center seem to have leveled off at about 5,000. The shelter holds 1/40th of total evacuees, but out group of volunteers is still reeling at the scale of our small piece of the pie.

Childcare seems to not be available in the Reliant Center. There is daycare in Reliant City, but it's talked about as being a fair distance away. In the Town Square, which I haven't visited yet, there are kids activities set up. Red Cross rules specify that kids under 10 must be accompanied by a parent. The day of a refugee seems to be filled with lines for shoes, lines for clothes, lines for kid supplies. Kids wander freely in a 500,000 sq ft room while parents look for housing off-site, stand in line for essential services, or escape by sleeping. Yesterday we were one of three remaining kid activity centers. The computer center is really cool. Unstaffed gaming tables rounded out the offerings.

An 826 volunteer commented the presence of our Korean Buddhist relief agency neighbors was puzzling, as there were no other religious orgs. I pointed out that the Red Cross was there (as is the YMCA). Is the Red Cross a religious org? My research indicates that, though the lovely Clara Barton may or may not have viewed nursing as a Christian calling for herself, the Red Cross is pretty damn good about keeping god out of their execution of core Christian (and humanitarian) goals. More here on the Red Cross. The Buddhist neighbors made perfect sense to me...they're usually not much for evangelizing.

Right. Facts. Coming later: facts on the Hilton Americas refugee population, conversations with radio pirates, and the kid who unhesitatingly chose brown to color in the water in his drawing.

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