Thousands of people in emergency shelters are still living in limbo, more than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck. The BBC News website's Matthew Davis spoke to those at Reliant Park - home to the Houston Astrodome - about their predicament.
Living cheek by jowl on the floor of a sports arena there is the complete absence of personal space.
Families huddle together on camp beds, surrounded by laundry bags stuffed with their remaining possessions and handouts from volunteers.
Many people's old lives have been washed away. But they are still waiting for a future.
Many children are desperate to go back to New Orleans
Houston has been kind to them. Its schools are educating their children, social services are finding families a home. Doctors are treating them.
But many still in the emergency shelters are reluctant to commit to a long stay elsewhere, when what they really want is to return to New Orleans.
Eric Falkins, living with his mother, sister and her baby on camp beds in a Reliant Park convention centre, said he was fed up.
"We are trying to get a house, but I don't know how long I will stay. I just want to go home."
In many ways, it is the children caught up in the mayhem who suffer most.
Hurricane Katrina tore families apart and left orphans. Even those at the evacuee centres with their families are bewildered about what has happened to their homes and all that was familiar to them.
Nicole Jonson has an autistic son who cannot sleep at night. She gets no rest because she is always watching out for him.
Her exhaustion only makes it harder to wade through the bureaucratic process of setting up a new life.
"It is impossible to look after your children, to stand in line for hours, to walk miles to the grocery store. I am exhausted," she told the BBC.
On the message boards around Reliant Park, there are still desperate pleas of mothers for any information about missing children.
Meanwhile, it is thought that up to 15,000 displaced students are now in the Houston area, and some 3,400 have been placed locally.
Every day, hundreds of children are bussed from the park to schools around the district. But as soon as they are moved into more permanent accommodation, children have to find new teachers once again.
The upheaval has created tension, despite the best efforts of principals and parents.
There is now an increased police presence at Jesse Jones High School after five students were arrested and three hospitalized because of an early morning fight between dozens of Houston and New Orleans teenagers.
The fight is said to have broken out after a can was thrown towards a group of students.
Officials admit that placing about 4,100 remaining Katrina evacuees is taking longer than expected, and say it has been especially difficult to find accommodation for several hundred special-needs evacuees.
Many people who remain are among the poorest. Some have trouble dealing with the bureaucracy.
John Lewis, from New Orleans East, told the BBC: "I just can't deal with the people here. I want the government to give me my $2,000 and I want to get out.
Some of the evacuees will start a new life away from their home town
"They have offered me a bus ticket to Hammond, Louisiana. I have a cousin there. I'm going to take a chance with him."
A spokesman for the mayor's office said the placement process had also slowed because not enough basic furniture could be found for empty apartments.
Evacuees in the biggest shelters have been given priority by a housing task force, but attention is also turning to around 46,000 evacuees in hotels and motels, and others staying with friends, relatives or strangers.
City officials say the bill for Houston's role in helping evacuees is expected to top $50m, most of which the city will demand back from the federal government.
Some $10m of the total will go on the costs of using Reliant Park. Additional housing, policing and health care are also major expenses.
Local residents have opened their doors to evacuees. Businesses are giving staff time off to help as volunteers.
But there is growing concern at the long-term impact of the burgeoning population.
A local newspaper poll suggested more than 50% of people expect the Katrina evacuees will stay in the area for "the long run", despite the fact that many people say they want to return to New Orleans.
About a third of people questioned said long-term stayers would be bad for the local area.
The Houston Chronicle poll also found that 53% of respondents said they had had personal contact with some of the estimated 150,000 Katrina victims in the region.
The Katrina disaster did not just devastate a major city, it also it hurt America's vision of itself, and exposed painful truths about US society.
Yet here in Houston people have reached out to help heal those wounds.
For those starting over again, only time will tell whether they can do so in Texas.