Monday, September 19, 2005

After Katrina, Where Have All the Hondurans Gone?

News Feature, Daffodil Altan,
Pacific News Service, Sep 13, 2005

Editor's Note: In Houston, many storm survivors from New Orleans' Honduran population are seeking help at a common meeting point for the undocumented: a restaurant.

HOUSTON--For several weeks now, consulates and relief organizations have been stumped. They don't know where, exactly, the thousands of Honduran and Mexican people living in New Orleans went before and after the hurricane.

"It's very hard for us to say where people are," says Alexandra Jost, with the National Council of La Raza. "Part of the difficulty for this community is that a lot of the traditional services, even the consulates, are not reaching them."

Here in Houston, when the first of Katrina's Honduran evacuees trickled into town, most didn't go to the city's public shelters, the Honduran consulate or to the Astrodome. Instead, through a network consisting mostly of word-of-mouth tips, many found their way to El Coquito, a Honduran restaurant in Houston's southwestern, mostly Latino neighborhood that transformed itself into a makeshift consulate nearly overnight.

"People are going through the networks that they can trust," says Francisco Celaya, a full-time Honduran college student who worked with the restaurant's owners to build a small office and warehouse just after the storm hit.
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