As hurricane Rita bears down on the Gulf Coast, we go to Houston to speak with the staff of Pacifica Radio station KPFT–one of the few radio stations still broadcasting in the city. [includes rush transcript]
It is now estimated that some 2.5 million people are in the process of fleeing their homes in the Gulf coast region of the United States, as Hurricane Rita careens towards the country. Residents trying to escape Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, crowded highways and sat in enormous traffic jams that lasted for hours. One of the few radio stations still broadcasting from Houston is Pacifica Radio’s KPFT.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We are joined right now on the telephone by Renee Feltz, who is the news director at KPFT and Duane Bradley who is the general manager. While others are packing up and leaving they are staying. Renee, tell us what is happening there?
RENEE FELTZ: Less than 24 hours before the hurricane is expected to make landfall Houston is relatively quiet but there are still a good number of people here. People should understand that the coastal area is under mandatory evacuation whereas, the Harris County and Houston area are basically under voluntary evacuation. But there are still a lot of areas here that are flood prone, people that live in homes and structures that could suffer heavy wind damage. We are expected to see tropical storm perhaps even hurricane level winds for 10 to 12 hours in the Houston area.
What’s concerning us at KPFT in the news department is that the mayor has a contingency plan set up for shelters in the Houston area but we really don’t know what that plan is. Just had a press conference, he really didn’t give any details. And part of why that is concerning is people of course have heard about this incredible traffic on the freeways the major interstates serving as evacuation routes.
Now this traffic has been so bad that many people have run out of gas of course this is a major problem, they may have to weather the storm on the freeways. They’re opening up shelters on the side of the roads but there also is a lot people turning back and coming back to Houston. Again they may not be in the best place to weather the storm so it become even more important to look at this issue of shelters.
So we are hoping that partly we can pressure the mayor and urge other people to development a mutual aid situation in their communities and neighborhoods to open up shelters and perhaps KPFT can help to distribute information about where those shelters are.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Duane Bradley in 20 seconds or so we got left can you tell us how you are going to continue to operate the station?
DUANE BRADLEY: We have an emergency generator here in the backyard here and we will run for as long as we possibly can if and when Houston proper loses power.
AMY GOODMAN: Well anything we can do to help, just let us know. Thanks so much for being with us Renee Feltz and Duane Bradley of KPFT.