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Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort in Houston Collection

Identifier: MSS 1441

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the experience of Hurricane Katrina through a Houstonian lens. It contains records from social agencies, the City of Houston, and other organizations that made an effort to relieve the human and animal suffering of this disaster. An artificial collection, these records were gathered from various groups, rather than from any single source. The collection seeks to document the effort Houstonians made to assist survivors of the storm. The storm itself is of secondary concern to this collection. Newspapers describing the storm’s impact can be found in Series 5 and extensive coverage can be found in other media.

The Collection consists primarily of copies of correspondence, emails, newspaper articles, brochures, newsletters, photographs, web sites, and other items created between August 2005, and February 2007.


  • 2005-2007
  • Majority of material found in 2005 - 2005

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort in Houston papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Historical Note

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. With respect to personnel dislocation and property damage, Katrina was the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history. The estimated loss of life was 1,836 people, and property damage was estimated in excess of $81 billion. Much of the devastation resulted when the levee system in New Orleans failed. A large portion of the city was flooded by up to nine feet of water filled with sewage, chemical products from flooded plants and refineries, and occasional drowning victims. The floodwaters remained for days, leaving homes and businesses beyond repair, requiring many blocks of the city to be torn down and removed. Over 120,000 people lost their homes within hours. Relief efforts by the local, state and national governments were widely critized. Many people left New Orleans, including an unlicensed youth who stole a school bus, and drove several people to Houston, drawing national attention.

In neighborhing Houston, many mobilized to aid the survivors. An ad hoc committee of businessmen, religious leaders, social agency directors and others headed by Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels coordinated a massive relief effort staffed by hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life. The Harris County Domed Stadium, better known as the Astrodome became a massive dormitory without walls for the survivors as thousands of cots were set up on the main floor. Later, the George R. Brown Convention Center was put into service. As 150,000 hurricane survivors arrived, security personnel screened the newcomers. Medical personnel diagnosed health problems, treated injuries, and administered vaccinations. Clothing and food contributed by area residents were distributed. Survivors had access to sanitation facilities, clothing, food, medical attention, security, and even a small library, courtesy of the Houston Public Library. Efforts were made to reunite families and loved ones who had been scattered over thirty states from Arizona to Massachusetts. In some cases, family members had been separated without knowing who had survived much less where they were.

By the middle of September, the convention and sports venues were empty as survivors were moved into hotels, apartments and vacant homes, usually paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Relocation was expedited as another major hurricane, Rita, bore down on Texas and southwest Louisiana, making landfall on September 24, 2005. Rita also caused considerable property damage in east Texas and western Louisiana.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into four series by subject and format.

I: Government Assistance to Katrina Survivors II: Private Agency and Corporate Relief to Katrina Survivors III: Aftermath; Impact of Survivors and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita IV: Hurricane Rita V: Newspapers, 28 August 2005 - 20 September 2005

Processing Information

Processed by Ron Drees, January 2007.
Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort in Houston Collection
Pending Final Review
February 5, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • February 5, 2021: Revised for ArchivesSpace and TARO 2.0, and editorial commentary removed by Matt Richardson

Repository Details

Part of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center Repository


(832) 393-1662

The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
M Closed | T 10-6 | W 10-6 | Th 12-8 | F 10-5 | Sa 10-5 | Su Closed
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002
M Closed T 10-6 W 10-6 Th 12-8 F 10-5 Sa 10-5 Su Closed