Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Members of the Texas National Guard distribute ice to residents of Pasadena, Texas, near Houston.
Members of the Texas National Guard distribute ice to residents of Pasadena, Texas, near Houston. Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials opened 18 distribution sites in the Houston area on Monday, after delays in arriving. Over the next three days, they plan to give out 7.5 million meals, nearly 20 million liters of water and 19.2 million pounds of ice.
At one distribution point, Harvest Time Church in Houston, people began arriving before daybreak. Throughout the day, thousands of hungry and thirsty people arrived by car and by foot, waiting hours in lines that stretched for miles and snarled traffic.
Carrying three boxes of the military-style meals, Vivian Greenaugh said she hadn't eaten like this since her 21 years in the Navy, including her last tour of duty in Iraq. Her rations included cereal, fruit cups, granola bars, crackers, pudding and beef stew.
"Even though it's a long line, I just appreciate the help, because it could've been worse, and it could've took longer," Greenaugh said.
Like everyone at the church, Greenaugh has been without power for days, and all the food in her refrigerator has gone bad. Some people said they had to throw out hundreds of dollars of frozen meats from their freezers.
Claudette Maxwell, whose daily dosages of insulin require refrigeration, was unsure if her two bags of ice would be enough.
"I may need like three [bags]," she said. "I'm just worried about my kids eating, more than me. If it's just that bad I'll go to the emergency room, I guess."
Maxwell and her neighbor, Audrey Jefferson, said that in addition to dealing with the uprooted trees and flooded streets, it is difficult to find groceries. The stores are nearly empty, they are accepting only cash, and finding gasoline to get there is a challenge.
"The only place we could get paper towels and marshmallows and crackers yesterday was at Target," Jefferson said. "And it was wiped out. It was all gone."
Sheronica Smith and her husband stood in line for hours with their hungry babies. Smith said that they have approximately $17 between them.
"That's it, that's all we have," she said. "I don't know [what to do]. Keep praying."
Smith also said that she and her husband would be back at the church again on Tuesday.