NPACH Presents:
The Katrina-Rita Oral History Project

The following interviews were conducted with the support and assistance of the Congressional Hunger Center and the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program. We invite you to listen to these audio clips and read their accompanying profiles and gain a deeper understanding of the difficult challenges facing those who have been forced to abandon their homes due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This project is ongoing and will be updated on a regular basis. Please contact NPACH via e-mail at info@npach.org for further information.

Patrick Trahan, Press Secretary to The Mayor, City of Houston
18 November, 2005

To date, the Houston/Harris County Joint Hurricane Housing Task Force has placed approximately 100,000 hurricane victims in 29,627 housing units.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5


Anthony Love, President & CEO, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County
28 October, 2005

“The Coalition for the Homeless is an educating, advocating, and coordinating body. Advocacy is the central component in terms of going out and advocating for the needs and the issues surrounding homelessness...Coordinating is a part of it because we understand that to effectively end homelessness it would have to be a coordinated effort. No one body or entity would be able to do it by itself. We work with those agencies that provide services to people who are homeless and we try to be the body that coordinates that.”

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4


Tyrone Evans, Director, Bonita Street House of Hope, Houston
9 October, 2005

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Bonita House had phased out all of its Bonita street units and was preparing to sell the facility due to financial constraints. After Katrina struck, Bonita House immediately opened the units to hurricane victims. As families move out of Bonita House, new families continually move in; since it began taking in hurricane victims, Bonita House has housed about 80 residents at a time. Bonita House is also matching families on its property with sponsors across the country that are willing to help hurricane victims with living expenses for six months.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Danielle Celius, Katrina Survivor and Bonita House Guest
9 October, 2005

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6


Bryan Greene, President and CEO, Houston Food Bank
25 October, 2005

“The Houston Food Bank is an America’s Second Harvest Food Bank. We receive mostly surplus, donated food and we distribute it through a network of charities serving 18 counties around the Houston area. Last year we distributed over 30 million pounds of food to approximately 400 charities. These charities range from soup kitchens, shelters, programs for disadvantaged children, rehabilitation programs, church-sponsored pantries, low income day-care centers, any kind of program that uses food...most of them oriented on solving hunger..."

(Note: As of October 25th, the Houston Food Bank was still operating at double its normal output. In order to better serve the needs of hurricane evacuees and survivors, as well as to meet the needs of the rest of the Houston community, the Food Bank expects that it will need to maintain this elevated output.)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5


Elliot Gershenson, President and CEO, and Bridget Samuel, Vice-President, Program Services
Interfaith Ministries, Houston

“We are an organization that brings diverse faith communities together for dialogue, collaboration, and service. Our primary areas of service are senior feeding activities, children’s feeding programs, and refugee resettlement. Our interfaith activities are really about bringing understanding, through seminars and bringing people together for dialogue. Also, we are very involved with disaster preparedness and mobilization of response...We have ten faith communities that we work with, and we have hundreds of congregations that, in one way or another, work directly or indirectly with us.”

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5


Dr. Katharine Donato
Associate Professor of Sociology and Master of Weiss College at Rice University

Dr. Donato recently co-authored a web article for the Brookings Institution entitled “In Katrina’s Wake, Who Will Return?” that describes Katrina victims in the context of international immigration. You can view this article at

Dr. Donato Interview

Ed Hearn, Associate Pastor, and Dawn Eagan, Food Pantry Coordinator, New Life Church, Houston

“I can’t tell you how the people of Katrina have responded to have someone hug their neck and offer an extended hand. I’ve seen grown men break down and cry. They had no idea what they were going to do. So you lift up a hand and, even if they don’t have anything more, at least they have some support, somebody who gives a hoot about them as a person...For us, it drives us. We see what is happening and it absolutely drives us to keep going."

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5


The Staff of Encourager Church, Houston
Bob Phillips, Senior Pastor, Billy Burton, Senior Associate Pastor, Rae Robichaux, Executive Secretary, Sarah Williamson, Facilities Manager

“We try to stress actively participating in your city and community as a Christian, as person with core values about how we are supposed to live and who we are supposed to be in Christ, but also how can we make our world better. When this came through, this became a place where we could put all that to the test...”

Part 1 Part 2


Dr. Gary Moore, Press Liaison, and Rev. Eric Hystad, Lead Staff Member for Operation Compassion, Second Baptist Church, Houston

Second Baptist Church played a large role in coordinating Operation Compassion. More than 35,000 volunteers were trained on their campus in the first few weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Part 1 Part 2


Bishop Abaynesta Aida Olubunmi, Shrine of the Black Madonna, Houston

“It is God’s will that we help people...God puts that mission in front of you to see how you rise to the occasion and if, as a church, we were not in the business of helping others then we would have no reason to exist.”

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4


Rev. Rawlin Ennette, St. Peter Claver Church, Houston

St. Peter Claver Church, which has a history of working with FEMA and the Red Cross to provide hurricane shelter relief, was one of the first churches in Houston to open its doors to Katrina evacuees.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Phone: (713) 674-3338
Fax: (713) 674-4494


Home | News | Alerts | Facts About Homelessness | Policy Briefs and Papers
Press Releases | Links | About NPACH | Support NPACH | Contact NPACH


Washington, DC Office:
1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1210
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 714-5378
  Southern Regional Office:
916 St. Andrew Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 524-8751