Let’s talk about the word “forgotten” for a second.
Websters describes it as a concept, notion or thing that has lost its remembrance or being unable to be recalled altogether.
As previously stated, that’s not what we want to happen to the victims associated with Hurricane Harvey.
As more nationwide efforts continue to get underway, HipHopDX reached out to Hip Hop and UGK legend Bun B to document his take on one of the worst natural disasters to hit the country.
Bun’s putting together the Hand In Hand benefit and telethon to raise money to help those who were impacted by Harvey. The show will feature dozens of stars and will air live at 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday (September 12).
I wish we were getting acquainted on better circumstances. But I’m glad to know that you’re doing OK and that you’re leading the charge. How were the first 72 hours? Making sure your family’s straight and looking out for your people.
It started for us really, Thursday night, Friday morning. All this started on a local level, it didn’t really get national attention until Sunday. My power went out on Saturday at 4 in the morning. So I made an effort that I was not going to stay. I had food and whatnot. But power was gonna be something that was gonna be a deal breaker. It was just gonna be too much to handle where we were. And I just didn’t want to be isolated without communication. It’s the worst place to possibly be.
I made the effort to leave Houston Saturday morning. It was a brutal drive up to Dallas. Cars hydroplaning and crashing on the side of the road. It was rough just getting out. I realized on the way up the highways were fairly wide open. Nobody was driving up Saturday morning. So I realized at the moment, if people weren’t leaving the city of Houston that same moment as we were, they weren’t gonna get out. A lot of people ended up stuck where they were. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as bad for the majority of Houston Saturday because of that.
Most people ventured out to house parties or clubs to watch the fight, at that precise moment it was when the storms that came into Houston. Most of the people that I’ve talked to were stuck where they were watching the fight. For some people it was their cousin’s house or family members, there’s that for them. For other people they were at a bar. People who didn’t get stuck at the bar or their cousin’s house got stuck trying to get home. That’s why you see cars floating, because a lot of those cars are from Saturday night.
That’s what you told Mass Appeal. People didn’t get a precise warning.
Like I said you don’t wanna start politicizing things and start pointing fingers because there still is a hell of a lot of work to be done. Hindsight is always 20/20. But yeah, do I think there could’ve been a better effort to clear shelter areas? Yeah, they could’ve done that sooner. There could’ve been more voluntary evacuation notices for a lot of the city. If they had done it earlier, the whole problem was the mayor making it Friday or Saturday morning.
When I drove up Saturday morning and I’m on the highway at 9:30-9:45, I get to Huntsville probably about 10:30 or so. On the way to Huntsville, I see about 30 prison buses on the highway leaving to go evacuate prisoners. Now that’s a good thing because normally prisoners are the last [people] to be evacuated. Prison officials knew that their prisons are going to flood and they needed to evacuate, it just seems odd to me that city officials didn’t know certain areas were going to have flood issues. Maybe not as bad as everyone sees it now.
A lot of areas in Houston are predisposed. Like I said if the prisons knew to get their people out of there, why didn’t city officials know to get their people out of there? Let’s just get that people are safe and make sure that they’re alive. If there’s people to be accounted for, for people losing their homes or their lives, we’re gonna make sure they’re going to be held accountable. It’s easy for me to say because I haven’t lost everything I own. If I woke up and everything I had was lost or gone I would want answers and I would want someone held responsible.
“A lot of this is Mother Nature. When you have something like mother nature, that’s uncontrollable by land — it’s hard to take this loss with no one to blame.”
You would know this better than I would. But is Houston, and the suburbs and surrounding areas, is that typical hurricane season? Does that part of the country get hit with tropical storms?
Yeah. We’re on the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast is a very warm body of water. So when storms tend to form there they tend to turn into hurricanes. When they do they go over Mexico and they don’t necessarily come our way. But when they do, it’s never a good thing. A lot of they way Houston has been built has been around or over bodies of water. In areas that use to be marsh land and what not. I think what they’re seeing now is the result of 80 years of not-so-smart infrastructure in terms of how the communities and suburbs are built. They’re all built around lakes, reservoirs and dams. They’re not only going to be around water, they’re going to be underwater. Because of how and where they’re built. It’s just a matter of time to this happens to these places. God forbid, no one could’ve predicted something like this could’ve ever happened.
How were you getting your up-to-date information? Do you still have relatives there or are you checking the news?
Yeah of course. A lot of family there, a lot of friends. I know people that live in communities all around Houston, of course with the advantages of not only social media, but most of the news stations have apps that are giving live streams. CNN makes it a little difficult to watch live streams on their app, but they’re making it easier to stay updated. We’re innovative to watch multiple streams at one time, one person could be watching CNN, MSNBC, or CNBC. It’s like oh shit here’s what’s happening in Katy, then I see my man in Pearland, to see if they’re doing alright. So it’s just a matter of seeing different subdivisions and different areas of town getting hit left and right.
Definitely, from your guesstimations and everything you’ve heard, how many people would you say are still stranded?
Thousands. Easily. I don’t want to get into tens of thousands I’m not really sure. But they are constantly going into neighborhoods and pulling people out.
That’s why you said the boats came in that we need.
Absolutely, because that’s the only way to get into these neighborhoods to get these people and get them out. There’s simply no cars and no vehicles that can move through that level of water. Streets are buckling every moment. I heard there’s a bridge now that Normandie there’s a community that had to evacuate, and there’s a bridge through that that could collapse at any moment. I don’t feel good that I got away. Watching all those people suffer. I’m in Dallas and the weather is beautiful. I feel some type of way that I got away and a lot of people didn’t.
It feels fucked up that you see all these handicapped or elderly people getting taken out of their beds, nursing homes, and retirement centers, leaving wheelchairs and medical things behind. Those people have to constantly be picked up and put down and things like that. It’s a lot.
I will say don’t beat yourself up. You think about when you get on an airplane put on your mask before you put on anybody else’s.
I try to get on the phone and try to do these interviews. I’m working with Scooter Braun, very big benefit style telethon event, Hand In Hand. Everyone wants to get involved and wants to help. We’re having meetings and we’re talking to people about putting something big together. As well as the local artists in Houston who want to give back so we’re going to be organizing an effort for Houston to help Houston. For those who are doing better in this moment and can give their resources. But it’s going to take all of Houston to rebuild Houston. And other people outside of Houston, we’re going to need their help as well.
It’s been a cool decade plus since the “Draped Up (Remix).” All the Houston artists need to band together and get some music out as well.
Whatever it’s gotta be. It can’t just be music-based. It’s gotta be effort-based and we gotta burn some elbow grease. It can’t just be a song. We’ll do a Houston Helps Houston benefit. We need the world’s help. Houston is getting beat up right now and we should not be afraid to say when we need help. In the city of Houston, City of Rockport, city of Victoria, city of Corpus Christi. All these different places. We need help. We need to fight to rebuild our city. We’re not asking for people to do it for us, we’re asking for people to do it with us.
Riddle me this Bun because we’ve seen this movie. When there’s natural tragedy, everybody focuses the effort on it. Celebrities get involved. Where does the money go?
People should donate where they feel comfortable you know. Some people feel comfortable with larger older organizations like the Red Cross. I understand that and if you feel comfortable with that that’s fine. But there are people who don’t feel comfortable with that and feel like there are people in those communities who need to get that money. So for those people, there a lot of options. There are faith based organizations and ones like Habitat for Humanity who help to build homes in a communities [where they’ve already built homes]. So the people that live there don’t have homes, they’re starting all over again. We gotta rebuild those homes. There’s going to be a lot of different initiatives. We’re looking to form other options with people where they feel like donating to.
Bun B and Scooter Braun’s Hand in Hand telethon airs Tuesday on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CMT and will also stream on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter today, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET.
How soon do you expect to be back in Houston?
We made attempts to turn several times. But because of where I live in the city there’s simply no way to get into that area. There’s too many freeways, underpasses, overpasses in neighborhoods. I’d get lost along the way. I can see a route up until an area, but after that particular area I’d have to go residential all the way home. We’re talking 20-30 miles of guessing my way through neighborhoods, into central Houston. It’s not possible. I’m looking at DriveTexas.org. It tells you where there’s road damage, water damage, and where stuffs in closure. But that’s just the stuff that’s reported. There’s ways around what’s reported, but then you’re taking chances you miss the stuff on the news where rivers are breaching, levees are breaching, creeks are flowing over. I don’t know what’s gonna happen to that neighborhood when I get there. Then it’s a matter of getting stuck somewhere. Not home, not able to get home. Not being able to help if I’m stuck there. It’s just smart and safe to know where I’m going until I know there’s a clear route to get home, then try to make that attempt at that time.
Alright, my brother, we’re all praying for you. We know your hands are tied but I think they reported that it’s gonna be a couple of years before Houston gets back to full form. So, I think it’s gonna be a long-term effort.
“Houston is gonna have to accept a new normal.”
Because there’s no way that people are going to be able to go back to these neighborhoods again. People are gonna realize that places they evacuated by boat are not safe places to live. Last two summers we had epic summers. Neither one of them had to do with a hurricane or tropical storm. Just heavy rain. So there has to be a new normal for Houston.
This city was built wrong. This is gonna be the reality of what we have to deal with. The way they extended out and the way they built suburbs was wrong. The way the mapped the city out and did the suburbs was wrong. The reservoirs were supposed to hold for 250,000 people. Houston has 600,000 people in their central and surrounding areas. Houston was built wrong. It was built around reservoirs. Suburb. Lake properties are attractive pieces of property, so it’s just a lot man we’re going to have to learn a lot about how this city is structured. Probably from the tow-way on out. We’re going to have to look at how Houston is built. Especially where it goes around Houston, that’s when it starts to get really hectic.
And you think that will politicize the climate? Because they were talking about people living in places they didn’t normally live in.
Absolutely, it’s a major influx of people living. Houston has a great quality of life, great cost of living, and it’s attractive to people who wanna live there. There’s a lot of land but the problem is not all that land is meant to be lived on. And when you build those houses lake-side you’re building on the marsh. So you’re building houses where those lakes and rivers would run off naturally.
It sounds like it’s going to be a concentrated effort. And maybe not a lot of power struggle. Do you have faith in your political leaders?
Like I said let’s save lives first, and we’ll worry about all that stuff later.