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Reliant roof repaired

And just in time for rodeo season.

Reliant Stadium’s retractable roof has lost its gap-tooth look and should be as good as new in plenty of time for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which runs March 3-22.

The five giant panels that were torn asunder by the fury of Hurricane Ike — or debris flung through the air by the storm — in the wee hours of Sept. 13 have been replaced and the process of tightening, stretching and waterproofing the new pieces is well under way with completion expected by mid-February.

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The repairs, to be paid for by Harris County’s insurance policy on the stadium and FEMA funds, are going to cost approximately $4 million. Investigators for Birdair and the insurance adjusters are just now beginning to study the damaged panels to determine why they came down, but there’s some evidence to suggest they were struck with airborne projectiles pried loose from nearby structures.

Glad they were able to get it done. And it means that the Texans will be able to close the roof as they had done before. Staphanie Stradley suggests what their policy on roof closings should be based on the open-roof experience they had this past year.

Somewhat ironically, that story appeared on the same day as this one.

Donations to speed the Gulf Coast’s recovery from Hurricane Ike have slowed dramatically, and two of the three major funds say they are ending their efforts to raise money.

“If someone comes in, we’re happy to talk to them but we’re not in an active fundraising mode,” said Ann Neeson, vice president of donor relations at the United Way of Greater Houston, which raised $5.8 million for hurricane recovery.

Ditto for the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund. It has raised $11.8 million, and administrators expect to have all the money distributed by late next month.

The need, however, remains.

“Twelve million dollars is a lot of money until you start giving it out based on the needs,” said Albert Myres, a Reliant Energy executive who is administering the Ike Relief Fund. “Could we have used $50 million? Probably. Easily.”

Those on the front lines agree.

“I get calls, and people are crying,” said Julie Reid of the Lutheran Inter-City Network Coalition-Houston. “They’re ready to give up because Houston has basically moved on.”

Windstorm insurance and hurricane relief are two of the issues that have been designated as emergency items by Governor Perry for the ongoing legislative session. That means any bills passed and signed can take effect immediately, instead of after 90 days as is the norm. Maybe that will help some, and maybe there’ll be more federal money coming. Whatever it is, it won’t be enough.

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