Here is an interesting New York Times article that describes the strain felt by Texans who absorbed hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and then took a direct hit from Hurricane Rita.
In East Texas, state officials are seeking roughly $1 billion in new federal block-grant money to house people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Rita.
Texas officials concede that their coast was not pummeled nearly as badly as their neighbors in Louisiana, but they argue that their residents did not evacuate and were now trying to live in squalid, mold-infested conditions.
"I have been to the Ninth Ward," said Mark Viator, chairman of the Recovery Coalition of Southeast Texas, speaking of the most devastated neighborhood in New Orleans. "There is debris in the Ninth Ward, but you don't have people. We say, send the money where the people are."
Henry Bowie, who lives in Port Arthur, a city with high unemployment and many poor residents, is the sort of person Mr. Viator thinks should get federal housing money. His house is a patchwork of broken roofing, and light is visible through the floorboards because the house is off its foundation. Black mold grows up the sides of the walls, but Mr. Bowie, who undergoes dialysis three times a week, remains there with his wife and teenage son.
... Mayor Guy N. Goodson of Beaumont, where thousands of homes were damaged, said he would like to see federal reimbursements for debris removal there rise to 90 percent of costs from 75 percent, equaling what it was in Louisiana. Mayor Goodson said his area suffered inattention because its residents had done the right thing: evacuating and rebuilding without complaint after Hurricane Rita cut its path.
"There is a great disjoinder in people's minds about disaster," he said. "You see wildfires, you see a tornado, and who can forget the pictures of the Ninth Ward. A vast majority of our area is wind damage. And unfortunately from a sensory standpoint, people just don't coordinate these two very similar disasters."
There's much more in the article about the problems Houston is facing, but I chose to excerpt some details about southeast Texas. I'm a native of that area, and I have seen firsthand the destruction that Hurricane Rita caused. Like the people living in Mississippi, the sensationalism-driven news media has simply ignored the plight of this area. But it is real.
A final thought -- all of the people living in water-damaged and mold-infested housing along the Gulf Coast in the wake of these two hurricanes are going to provide doctors and other medical professionals with a living laboratory of diseases and health ailments caused by exposure to mold and chronically damp environments. Many people (particularly in the construction and insurance industries) have dismissed the idea of mold-related diseases as a fantasy cooked up by greedy lawyers. We'll see if they change their minds now.