Fifth Ward residents fear looters will steal what little they have left

The floodwaters may be gone, but the damage is hard to miss in Maria’s home.  She lives in the 5th Ward, and while the storm damaged her house, it hasn't convinced her to leave to a shelter. Why is Maria staying in her home?

“We don't have a way of going anywhere. We are trying to throw out all of this stuff. I don't know. It's hard,” Maria said. “School is about to start. How am I going to get my kid to school?”

These questions add to the list of concerns other residents in the Fifth Ward share.

Darlene Nelems had nearly two feet of water outside her home, with no electricity for several days.

“What we would do is we would break the candles. You know the long ones, we would break the candles and asked who had one and who didn’t. If they didn't then have, that's how we came together as a family up in here,” Nelems said. “We were just scared to leave the little things that we have left from the flood. We’re scared to just leave home.”

Arun Gir is the director of a local nonprofit called iEducate. They recruit college and high school students to work alongside teachers in underserved elementary schools in neighborhoods like the Fifth Ward.  Now the organization is turning to convince the residents to leave the hazardous living conditions and inform them of resources they are missing out on.

“We looked at the entire eastside and started going just door to door talking to people saying ‘do you know what is out there in times like this?’” Gir said.  “And 99, 100 percent of them said ‘I am not aware of any of this stuff.’”

We went to visit the biggest shelter in Houston, NRG Center, to see what exactly is offered. First, they will be protected. To ensure the evacuees have privacy, media wasn't allowed to take video in areas and all volunteers are prohibited from taking any pictures. Additionally, immigration status does not affect who can go to the shelter.

“It does not matter at all. We want anyone who needs shelter to come here. It does not matter what your documentation status is.  We gave all the services you may need. FEMA is here. We have Social Security. We have Immigration. We have a place for the kids.  We have a computer lab,” Fred Goodall with BakerRipley said.

Along with all of those resources, there is plenty of room at NRG Center, and you can sign up with FEMA and start talking about rebuilding your home for the future.