Urban League President Thanks Houston for Helping

9-5-05 - The president of the National Urban League thanked Houstonians Sunday night for taking in thousands of evacuees from his hometown of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

But Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, told a group of more than 80 members of Houston's minority and religious leadership that the work they and other volunteers across the state and country have done in helping evacuees is far from over.

"We all cannot simply be spectators. We have got to be engaged," he said. "Our people are in need. We need to respond."

The minority, religious and political leaders in attendance said they were ready to ramp up their efforts to find housing, jobs, medical and spiritual assistance for evacuees.

"It's not going to be a six-month situation. We have to prepare for the duration," said U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston.

Morial said he is asking the Houston community to continue organizing volunteers to help the thousands of evacuees housed at the Astrodome and other shelters. But he also said the next step in the process is to organize resources to meet the long-term housing, medical and employment needs of evacuees.

Houston City Councilman Adrian Garcia said city officials are taking an inventory of public and private housing in the area, everything from churches to a homeowner's garage apartment that could be used by evacuees.