(Editor’s note: Actor Steve Guttenberg, who serves as the honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades, flew to Houston on September 6 to help for five days with hurricane relief efforts at the Astrodome. This is the first of two reports that he filed to the Palisadian-Post about his experiences. We will have more space available for next week’s story.) By STEVE GUTTENBERG Honorary Mayor I was in New York with my family when I began watching the Katrina stories on television. Like everyone else, we all were shocked and saddened. I was honored to be King of Bacchus at Mardi Gras in 1991 and my whole family and many friends spent a week of glorious partying in New Orleans. Since then, I have loved that city, as I know anyone who ever visits it does. Watching the aftermath of the storm, my Mom and I thought the same thing: flying to the region and helping. After several days went by, I felt that going to Houston would help, so I bought some gloves and heavy duty shoes and flew down to volunteer. After checking into a hotel, I caught a cab to the Astrodome, where the entrance was bustling, like a little city that had sprung up overnight. I went up the escalator to the Relief Center, where I found the volunteer table and was given an orange wrist band, then sent off to orientation. There I meet 30 new inductees, and we were instructed about various safety issues. They stressed wearing gloves, using the hand sanitizer, and being helpful to everyone. Lots of people were depending on us to take our jobs seriously. My first job was to go around the Dome and find all the cots that were not being used, then bring them to an area where other volunteers in masks and rubber gloves would clean and sanitize them for new “guests,” as the Red Cross person described them. They were not “refugees,” he emphasized. This was their home, and we should treat them that way. When I went down to the old stadium floor at the Dome, it momentarily reminded me of the days when the Oilers played football here. But this was not a sports event, this was real life after a natural disaster’tough and heartbreaking. I was once in a film called “The Day After,” which was about a nuclear holocaust. There was a scene where the victims of this nuclear war were housed in a great gymnasium in Lawrence, Kansas. And as I walked into the Astrodome, it was identical to the movie. Life imitating art.
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