Several left as it began Sunday, complaining of the hard-to-hear microphone system.

But it could be heard at times. There were just so many people, 1,000 or more cluttered around the makeshift pavilion near the Bridge City Community Center.

Parking was chaotic, as far down as the little league field or edged up on the right hand side of Roundbunch Road. And debris, hauled out to the road; from water-soaked recliners to mops and brooms, probably used to clean then tossed out as well.

One man shouted, “We need food.” There was a little there, in take-out boxes from relief workers.

The bottled water went pretty fast. A few chests of soft drinks remained, some ice still amazingly hanging on in the terrible heat.

“The schools are in pretty good shape,” said Superintendent Jamey Harrison.

“We’re housing a lot of volunteers and we’re certainly not going to kick them out. They’re here to help us.”

The crowd broke into cheers when he added, “We’re also going to play some football.”

A curfew remains from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and the boiled water order is still in effect, Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte said.

“We want to see people out working on their homes,” he said. “Get the debris as close to the curb as you can. There’s food all over town, and we’ll feed you until we don’t need to anymore. Be careful of ‘contractors’ out to scam you. Make sure they’re licensed and bonded and get references if you can.”

Larry Sommers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the number to call for claims is 1-800-621-FEMA.

“You need to be thinking three things right now,” he said. “Your family, cleaning out and helping out your neighbors.” The 800 number is frequently busy, he said. “The early morning hours are a good time [to call]. If you like to sip your coffee at 4 a.m., try then. If you’re a ‘night owl,’ try it and keep trying.”

“FEMA’s been doing a lot for us,” Roccaforte said.

One man in the crowd told Sommers, “I got through and they told me this area has no damage.”

Sommers responded, with laughs from the crowd, “If he told you that, he needs to be fired.”