Shelters and Special Needs - not a good combination


When our local church shelter in Alvin had to close due to imminent flooding plus non-working bathrooms, roughly 500 of us were packed onto buses for some unknown shelter destination outside of Brazoria County. We were initially told they were possible taking us to Waco. We were told we could take 1 bag per person. I am single grandma with custody of medically, mentally challenged child with autism. We had his two autism/PTSD therapy dogs, all his medical supplies (he was on 8 different scripts), two days worth of clothing and all my legal papers proving I have custody. Because of the need to keep the dogs, medical supplies and legal papers, we had to leave all clothing behind.

1. packed into buses cattle style, no working bathroom. What turned out to be a 12 hour ride through the storm, one 10 minute rest room break for 500 people at a gas station. No money, no food, no drinks. Couldn't even get dogs out of crates to potty.
2. was told only his small dog could go to shelter, they would find somewhere to board his bigger dog - we had to sign papers releasing her to unknown destination - her crate was tagged with all our info and notice she was child's ptsd/autism therapy dog. We were told someone would take him to see her daily as long as we were in shelter. That never happened.
3. first shelter we were taken to was closed so we reboarded and sent to an old school near ft hood
4. more hours being processed, still no food, drinks or bathroom (with a child who has already soiled his only set of clothing) and who was bordering on hysteria
5. settle in, hundreds of ft hood service people and community volunteers dug in to help us all. finally food. for 3 days it was great. Red Cross pretty much ignored my requests for assistance. No one had any clothes he could fit into nor the much needed medical "diapers", he had to stay in filthy soaked cloth. Bed sheets were soaked the first night; we were told we could only have that one set of sheets and blankets. Volunteers helped staff a playroom , brought me some small toys to occupy hjm, stuffed animal to comfort him.
6. Waited hours, missing meal time to stand in lines for drs to get help with replacing his meds and still trying to get him some medical adult size diapers and clothing.
7. Red Cross forced all volunteers out of shelter and dropped down to small staff. No one able to help those of us with special need children! He cant bath himself or be in mens room alone. They wouldn't let me take him into ladys room shower nor could ?I go into mens room with him so he ended up with body sores, rashes etc because I had no way to clean him up.
8. there was no assistance with special dietary needs. All the days we were there, they had milke twice and only a gallon or two - not enough for all the children that were there.
9 Constant requests to red cross for someone to find his other therapy dog and take us to see her fell on deaf ears. He desperately needed her and at this point, they still couldn't even find her. Mad because we weren't allowed to keep her yet some dang Red Cross idiot let a family bring in a therapy pig!!!!
10. Days later, Red Cross finally decided to put on a dog and pony show, gave us a roll of quarters and took us to a laundromat. But still no changes of clothes. Were we supposed to sit naked while we washed our clothing? Someone finally loaned me a blanket to wrap him in so I could wash his clothing he had on. A local radio station promised they would get us clothing and some toys to help him since he couldn't have the dog he desperately needed. They brought the items to us but Red Cross refused to allow them entry. They finally found his missing therapy dog, 2 hours after we were put on a bus to go back to Alvin.

I wasn't the only one there with a special needs child or family member. There were other children with autism, downs syndrome, ADHD and more. There were several wheelchair bound people. No one was helping any of us with our special needs. A select few would ask what they could do but when given specific requests, nothing was ever done. We had great care, help and concern shown by volunteers, esp the military but when Red Cross kicked out all volunteers, we were left floundering. I would rather take my chances and have us stuck in a flooded home with no electricity and him at least have his other needs met then to ever risk going to a shelter again.

He jokingly said one day that it was Harvey Hell Home and honestly, it was. Then I almost lost my job when I returned, my employer denied me the right for the financial assistance from unemployment which even the unemployment hearing judge said I was qualified for. My home was further destroyed by a "Cajun" group who took 2 weeks to tear apart part of my house before realizing they lacked the skills and left everything torn apart and replacement construction materials ruined. We still have unrepaired damage, inside and outside, water and mold, health issues...


Nana C.


Shelters and Special Needs - not a good combination


personal narratives




This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.


This item was contributed via the Harvey Memories Project "Contribute an Item" form.

Date Created


Date Submitted


Date Available


Spatial Coverage


Temporal Coverage

start=2017-08-17; end=2018-12-14; scheme=ISO 8601;