Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Urban South’s real life Hurricane Ike hood relief mission
Edward "Pookie" Hall of Urban South Entertainment visited the places you didn't see on the news after Hurricane Ike hit Houston. (Article contains some NSFW language.)
The night after hurricane Ike passed through the city of Houston I was getting my family ready for a possible hit in Dallas. At the same time I was mourning the death of my homie Big Stuckett from Needle in a Haystack from Greenville, MS and some big out of pocket shit when Julia Beverly hit me up late Sunday evening checking on things. I told her that hurricane Ike slid by Dallas – Fort Worth but that Houston was in bad shape. She was wondering what could be done and if I could help out since the TJ's DJ's & Ozone Awards took place there shortly ago. With the shit I had on my mind it was perfect timing for me to go and assist my people that were in need.
Monday morning I picked up my guy Wap1, stocked the Ozone/Carnivo XO truck with food and supplies for our three-day hood relief mission. Keep in mind it only takes approximately three and a half hours to drive from Dallas to Houston but this was all about to change. The first two hours of our trip we coasted through on cruise control but from this moment on everything else will be life changing heading down I-45 South. While passing through a small town we saw cars lined up about a quarter mile back waiting to get gas. Not one gas station, but all of them. This continued through two more towns before we quickly pulled into a gas station for our long term wait to refuel. After patiently waiting over an hour for gas and then food we jumped back on I-45 South to Houston and immediately started to notice that the traffic on the interstate had started to jam up and slow down. Now four hours on the road we were 20 miles from Huntsville but driving 10-20 mph at a time. It seemed as if everyone that left Houston was on their way back this same day.
Five and a half hours later, past Huntsville, we began to see signs reading "NO GAS; NO FOOD". We finally made it in to Houston only to catch the city in total darkness with the exception of some main food restaurants and gas stations (with two mile long lines). Riding into a fully lit up downtown I thought to myself that things are not as bad as it could have been until DJ Chill called me and said "Come over to 'South Park.'" When we did, you immediately noticed the difference of the hurricane's impact upon exiting off the freeway. Total darkness takes affect from non-working street lights and red lights. Homes, apartments and stores also were shut down with total darkness. Crossing MLK we had to shift back and forth from both lanes to avoid dangling red lights, power lines in the streets and up rooted trees everywhere. It's a straight jungle to the point of an 8 p.m. citywide curfew. We finally caught up with DJ Chill who had this look of disbelief on his face that I cannot explain. He told me that the majority of the people in South Park have not really eaten or bathed because of no running water. He also said that there was no electricity throughout the area, no safe-to-eat food, and so on since the storm hit. Not to mention that the entire city of Houston was without ice. His family said our presence was a breath of fresh air. He thought we were staying in a hotel with power but I told him we were riding it out in the trenches with our people until we were done with our efforts. From there we went to DJ Chill's house where the neighborhood was even darker, if that sounds possible. He plugged an inverter to his car battery which gave us enough power to watch the news with a light on. This was only temporary because the inverter puts a heavy strain on the car battery. Yes, the simple thing to do is to crank the car up from time to time but this burns gas which at the time was a very limited resource to obtain without waiting more than two hours for it. A lot of people ran out of gas waiting in line for it. Shit, we even saw people parked at gas stations over night waiting for them to open and refuel in morning.
Tuesday morning we headed back to South Park dumping supplies where needed. We ended up at these senior citizen's apartments where they had no electricity, no food or ice. From the parking lot to the inside lobby elder men and women over the age of 60 were standing and sitting around basically helpless of any public assistance from the city. With no power, the elevators were down so we went up this pitch black staircase to the 3rd floor. Keep in mind it is morning outside. It then dawned on me that these senior citizens have to actually walk up and down these dark stairs to move around throughout the day. When we got to the 3rd floor we visited this apartment of a woman that was 70+. She began to tell us how blessed she was for two reasons. The main reason being that since the power was off she has not once had to use her breathing machine that of course uses electricity. The second reason was Ozone Mag bringing her food and water to her doorsteps. Walking back down through the lobby looking at everyone sitting around put a stale feeling in my heart with the city of Houston. Why is a senior citizen's complex without electricity, food and water for more than a day when most of them use breathing machines at night to sleep or water for medication? Why isn't there at least one generator for emergency situations? Shit, your guess is as good as mine.
Our next stop was to the Southwest side where we gave food, water and supplies out on the corners, at the car washes, bus stops and everywhere people were in need. We also gave out some dollars to families standing out with children on the corners. You could look in people's eyes and tell who was in deep need from Ike. Julia's friend Nikki called me throughout my rotation and told us that Katy, TX had all the ice we needed. 52 bags of ice later we drove from Katy, TX to J Prince Gym on Jensen in the 5th Ward and ran into the street being blocked on the way. At first I thought the street was just flooded until I realized we were looking at a 14ft underpass full of water with a train riding over it. The gym looked closed at the time so we just assisted however we could throughout the 5th Ward until the ice and supplies ran low. Now with a soaking wet trunk we drove back to Katy, TX and grabbed 52 more bags of ice. Why 52? Shit I don't know. We grabbed 52 bags the 1st time and knew the exact cost, so there. This time we headed straight for Acres Home. My boy Dewayne from Garden City Projects told me their people were starving over there since the storm and needed help badly. When we pulled up it was the same story. There was no electricity, no food, no ice and some water.
My stop in Garden City was memorable. They really look out for their own out there. When we pulled up we didn't have to do anything. Dewayne and a couple of others took charge delegating the food, ice, etc. to their people in need. Sitting back watching you could tell that they had structure and a system throughout their community. You could tell that they were all sticking it out together as one. Once our supply ran low we took it all the way back to Katy, TX again for another round of ice. We finally refueled and took a few minutes to eat. Not realizing that everything shuts down at 7 p.m. because of an eight o'clock curfew, we rushed in for more ice and food. We did not have 52 bags of ice this time. Lol. We took it back to the Southwest side where we routed up with Fiya who was in need at the time. She told us that her entire area was in need but we didn't have enough to make a full run and I put it on to do list as soon as we re-stocked on food. We had mainly ice at the time. As she continued to speak her story started to match DJ Chill's story on making money from music in the streets during a time of crisis. Her question was how is she now going to eat when no one is concerned about buying music, going to shows and any other local music business doing a time in need. DJ Chill asked this same exact question. His response was to now make sure he is better prepared to operate making money by some other means during such crisis. This is something we all should take into deep consideration.
We actually went back through Acres Home because a lot of the elderly people were unable to get ice and they were high on our priority list. This time we pulled up on J Dogg sitting in the back. He was actually there earlier but we missed each other. He told us that he would be right there with his people throughout the good and bad and that he really appreciated and respected Ozone Mag for assisting his people in a time of need. With melting ice we headed to 288 South and Scott. I forgot the name of the complex we were in, but you know the story. Of course total darkness. From there up through South Park, police were jamming up anybody walking the streets past the 8 p.m. curfew. We routed back up with DJ Chill and headed to his house once again for another night in trenches.
Wednesday, Day 3, I expected the conditions to begin to get better. I knew today's run would be lighter. I mean it had to be even though I'm still sitting in DJ Chill's house with no running water and power. The first move I made was running directly into a jammed up gas station and I knew my only hope was driving back to Katy, TX to refuel and re-stock up on food, ice and supplies. This time I put my focus on the 3rd Ward and spend most of my morning there playing catch up from the previous two days. Although it was bad, the 3rd Ward didn't seem to be like the other urban hoods in the city therefore I went back through the 5th Ward and then back to the Southwest to meet up with Fiya. This time we worked as much of the Southwest as we could before running low again. Again we were being told the same stories on how thankful they were that Ozone Mag came through and how they could not believe that no other assistance was in their reach. Julia told me about Trae needing more volunteers at a relief station he had set up but Fiya and I had melting ice that I had brought from Katy, TX at the time.
On my way out of the city I did a quick spot rinse through the city. I also stopped back through Acres Home to drop whatever I had left and yes, J-Dogg was still there with his people as he said the previous day so I grabbed my camera for a few photos in Garden City.
I never saw anything that resembled FEMA, any news cameras, power/light trucks or pod relief stations in any of the places I passed through with food and supplies. Much love to Trae for what he was doing to help on his side. I heard he put together a full running relief station with FEMA and the city. I know some of you are thinking why some of these people didn't go to the destination POD/Relief stations set up by the city. When you have no money, have not eaten in a day or longer, no access to running water and no means of transportation it makes it just a little bit harder to move around; especially going to wait in line for hours just to receive a case of water, 1 bag of ice and other things. Much love to Wap1 for taking that ride with me with no warning. Much love to Brandi Garcia. I hit Brandi up about what we were doing and she had Ozone on radio within two minutes. Thank you to the On Air Divas (D-lyte & Ebony) on K104 for keeping DFW aware of what we were doing. Much love to Dewayne and J-Dog from Acres Home (Garden City Projects). You all made sure your people were straight. Much love to Fiya for looking out for the Southwest side and definitely to DJ Chill for helping us support South Park. My drive out of Houston was quiet and depressing at first. I felt like I could have done more and that I should have stayed for another day, but then I realized what more could one to two people do on a limited budget in the 4th largest city in the U.S.? Once I got a great distance away I was able to bathed, get gas with no problems, and eat whatever I wanted with full access to electricity. It registered with me on how real life is. Fu%k all of the bullsh%t WANTS because in your time of NEED your WANTS do not mean a damn thing.
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