Instead of tearing the homes down, city officials are selling them for $1, as part of the "Urban Homestead Program."
Conditions are reportedly going from bad to worse aboard a Carnival cruise ship, stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.
About 4,000 passengers and crew have been stuck on the cruise ship since an engine room fire disabled it Saturday.
The ship set out last Thursday from Galveston, Texas, for what was supposed to be a four-day Caribbean cruise.
Since the fire, passengers have reported that power has been limited, food lines are long and the bathrooms are more or less shut down.
Lufkin, Texas, resident Mary Poret says her 15-year-old daughter Rebekah is on the cruise ship with her father.
“My daughter called me Monday, at work, and was just hysterically crying. She was very scared that she might never see me again, because she was afraid that she was in danger,” Poret told Here & Now. “I had a meltdown. I was very scared, I was very angry, I was worried about my daughter, and there was nothing I could do as a parent and as a mother, to help her.”
The first night after the fire, Rebekah and her father slept in the hallway on the floor, said Poret.
“There was no air conditioning or electricity where they were,” she said. “She had been asked to use the bathroom in plastic bags and they were disposing of the plastic bags, and not using the sewage system.”
And from what she understands, conditions have gotten worse since then.
“[Sewage from] the floors up above are seeping into the walls and sloshing in the hallways. And people are getting sick because of the stench. When they move around, they have to cover their mouths because the stench was so bad,” Poret said.
Family friend Kim McKerrighan’s 10-year-old daughter and ex-husband are also on the cruise ship.
“I could hear my daughter bawling her eyes out,” McKerrighan said. “Her dad got on the phone with me and he told me that the alarm had gone off, there was a fire in the engine room; they are lucky to be alive, because had it reached the gas, it would have exploded. So when I said, ‘What have you all eaten?’ He said, ‘Onion sandwiches, because all the food has gone bad.’”
The boat is now being towed to shore, and is expected to arrive in Mobile, Alabama on Thursday. Poret and McKerreghan are both in Mobile, Ala. waiting for the ship to arrive.
“We did call Carnival Cruise to find out when the ship might be coming in, and there was no definite answer,” McKerreghan said. “We read on one news report the ship might be coming in today, we read on another news report the ship would arrive on Saturday. All we know is we are going to be here when that ship arrives.”
Carvinal is offering passengers a free flight home, a full refund and a credit for another cruise. Medical personnel are also standing by for any passengers needing treatment when they arrive in Mobile.