Houston Finds Room In Its Homes

And Evacuees Find Help, Love Within Those Walls

Overnight, Tracy Cox's family of six has grown into a family of 16.

As CBS News Correspondent Trish Regan reports from Houston, Cox, her husband and their four children are sharing their home with 10 strangers.

"It was just the right thing to do," Cox said.

She met them at the Astrodome, where the Cox family went to offer help to evacuees being housed there.

"There were hundreds of people in the parking lot, just digging through bags," Cox recalled. "They just wanted something clean, something to have, because they had nothing."

That's when she met Anne, Kyana and Stephanie. "They all had small children and one of them was pregnant," Cox said. "I just couldn't send them back in there. I couldn't. They were scared. You could see it on their faces."

Cox and her husband couldn't choose just one woman and her family, so they took all of them home.

Her neighbors and church have donated enough food and supplies to turn her garage into a warehouse.

And, for now, at least, it's all just fine by Tracy's youngest daughter, Everest.

"When my friends aren't home, I'm usually just sitting here on the couch, just watching TV," she said. "And now, I have someone to play with."

The new expanded family plays together and prays together. And while conditions here are a world away from the Astrodome, the sleeping arrangements are still a bit cramped.

What are they going to do next?

"I have no idea," said Anne Williams. "I mean I have no home. I have no idea. I might just stay here with Tracy forever."

Williams and her granddaughter Zaria had been stranded on a New Orleans causeway for two days. That's where they last saw her husband, Percy. They have not heard from him since.

"I know that he's OK," she said. "I just feel it, that he's OK."

Reuniting displaced families is a top priority, says Houston Judge Robert Eckles, known as the "mayor of the Astrodome."

"That is a tremendous challenge," he said. "They are not just here. There are people who have been scattered across the country as they've been relocated."

Eckles says children here are being enrolled in Houston schools and officials are doing their best to find jobs for the adults. But, as the days pile up, people are getting frustrated.

"Forgive me if I don't think living on the Astrodome floor is living," said a woman who before the hurricane was a receptionist at a law firm. "I do not want to live in the dome or be bused from one shelter to another. I want to get back to my normalcy."

"If you can imagine," says Eckles, "going to a football game and you're sitting with about 20,000 close friends and you never get to go home. You're sharing your living room, your bedroom, your kitchen, your bathroom. That's not a healthy environment, both from a public health perspective and psychological perspective for the people that are here."

Eckles insisted the Astrodome is a place that is an immediate shelter; it is not a good place for home.

"Our goal is that in a matter of weeks, we get these people into suitable long term relief housing of some kind," he said.

But for now, the Astrodome has its own zip code and no one knows how long people will be living in shelters or with families like the Cox's.

Still, for the fortunate people living in Houston, life is getting better. Today, 5-year-old Zaria is excited about her first say at a new school. And when she got home, she had another happy surprise. CBS News had found her grandfather, Percy, at a shelter two hours away and brought him to Houston.

It's a very good day. Tracy's church has found them an apartment of their own and Percy, a bus driver, is determined to find work and rebuild their lives.

"I'm the type of person that likes a challenge," he said. "I lived one lifestyle in New Orleans that was fair and decent. Maybe I could live a better lifestyle here in Texas."