Friday, October 17, 2008

Gulf Coast Civic Works Act


Three years after Hurricane Katrina, there's finally a bill in Congress that will give Katrina survivors a fair chance to rebuild their lives. But it won't become law if enough representatives don't stand up to support it.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act would hire 100,000 Gulf Coast residents and evacuees, providing them with training and jobs to rebuild their homes and communities. It started as nothing more than a good idea, but after thousands of members called on Congress to support the plan, and after years of persistent activism from students and Gulf Coast organizations, it now has a real chance of bringing some justice to the Gulf.

Even though it's come this far, it will take massive public pressure on each member of Congress to get the bill passed. If we want justice for Katrina survivors, we need to make our voices heard now as the media focuses its attention on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

I've signed on with to tell my member of Congress to co-sponsor the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, will you join us?

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act represents a powerful shift from what's currently happening in the Gulf. It calls for hiring 100,000 Gulf Coast residents to rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding region. They'll be provided with temporary housing and job-training and will build and repair houses, schools, parks, and other civic buildings.

The idea behind the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project is not new. During the Great Depression, the federal government believed it had a responsibility to ensure that those hit hardest did not fall through the cracks. It also knew that those Americans wanted a hand up, not a handout. So, in 1935, Congress created a program to hire out-of-work Americans to get things done to benefit their communities.

It's a plan that makes sense--for displaced survivors, for the communities of the Gulf Coast, for the nation as a whole. It provides an opportunity to invest in Americans while reversing the most glaring problems that plague current rebuilding plans: gentrification, government waste, and massive corporate profiteering. It would revitalize the Gulf Coast's economy while rebuilding its infrastructure, and it's a model that could be applied to solve similar problems across the country.

Learn more and please join the cause by calling on your representative to co-sponsor the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act. It only takes a minute:


Friday, September 12, 2008

HURRICANE IKE: bayou communities flooded again

bayou communities in southern louisiana have been flooded again, in some areas worse than hurricane rita in september 2005. i have been unable to reach the area again, now due to the threat of flooding from hurricane ike. i hope to be in terrabone parish soon to document and talk to residents and civic leaders about their needs. report backs will be posted to this website as soon as possible.

keep posted to the following websites for up-to-date information:

Friday, September 5, 2008

report back from St. Bernard - food stores and gas stations reopening today

i returned to St. Bernard Parish this morning to find residents arriving home, emptying car trunks, and sitting on their porches. to my surprise, there are just a small number of generators humming in lower St. Bernard, a sign that most other areas have their power restored. i heard that 80% of the parish's power will be restored by tomorrow.

overall, the parish looks unaffected by hurricane Gustav. crews have been clearing fallen trees from the main roads, but even in lower st. bernard, i couldn't find major obstacles except for a temporary levee on Bayou Rd. heading into Verret. also, sheriffs are blocking entrance--except for residents of these specific areas--into Reggio, Wood Lake, Delacroix, Alluvial City, Yscloskey, Shell Beach, and Hopedale. i was unable to reach these areas to survey. the sheriffs told me most people in these areas have not returned and therefore, according to them, there is no reason for me to enter the area. many residents were passing through to reach their homes, though. there was a large, empty national guard truck setting the backdrop. i turned around without arguing.

fortunately, so many people are returning today and should be able to get by with assistance from neighbors and friends. i brought ice to a few residents, but since stores and gas stations are opening today and tomorrow now with the power restored, emergency relief aid seems unneeded in most parts of St. Bernard Parish. Winn-Dixie, one of two large supermarkets in St. Bernard, opened today at noon. there were food and beer delivery trucks in front of almost every gas station and convenience store i saw on my drive through the parish.

i talked to pastor Larry of the Adullam Christian Fellowship Church in Arabi while volunteers served up free hot meals and distributed free ice to residents in the parking lot off of St. Bernard Highway. he gave me the contact information to a church in Thibodaux, Louisiana, just north of Houma, where they are putting a call out for chainsaws and anyone with arborist or basic tree-cutting skills to volunteer clearing trees in the Terrebonne Parish area. Trees are making roads impassable in Terrebonne, preventing relief aid groups from reaching towns like Cocodrie and Dulac.

please contact HOPE/rebirth if you are interested in volunteering and have a chainsaw & arborist skills. this is apparently what is most needed out of volunteers right now.

free ice and hot meals to st. bernard residents

i found two locations distributing free ice--bring a state-id or driver's license with you to show proof of residency (unknown how long this will last):
  • ARABI: City of Hope (Adullam Christian Fellowship Church) 7451 W. St. Bernard Hwy
  • CHALMETTE: north-west corner of Paris Rd. & Virtue St. (just north of Nunez College)
  • VIOLET: Corinne Missionary Baptist Church, 5620 E. Judge Perez Dr. (near Beachhead Ln.)
residents can receive free hot meals today & tomorrow:
  • ARABI: City of Hope (Adullam Christian Fellowship Church) 7451 W. St. Bernard Hwy
    Breakfast: from 7 to 9 a.m.
    Lunch: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Dinner: 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

FEMA to help with hotel bills, rent, repairs, etc.

"Evacuees, property owners with damage and local governments in 30 parishes will eligible for a variety of benefits under the disaster declaration that President Bush has issued in the wake of Hurricane Gustav."
read article

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

local orgs in need of donations

the following organizations are grassroots projects in need of donations for Gustav relief and general rebuilding of southern louisiana:
  • INCITE: women of color against violence
    "Your assistance is urgently needed to help the low-income women of color and their families evacuate safely if need be, stay safe for the duration of the evacuation, and return to the city as soon as possible so as not to fall prey to the pushout that has kept so many folks from being able to return to New Orleans since Katrina."
  • Four Directions Solidarity Network
    "Four Directions is committed to ensuring equal relief assistance to all Indigenous people that are in need,and reaffirm our policy of free and equal distribution of storm aid to any person in need within the area regardless of race, ethnicity or tribal affiliation. We encourage those interesting in donating relief to ensure lesser known groups also receive enough assistance.
    "DONATIONS: We continue to create an inventory of needed items that will be posted to our website and Gustav blog. Initially, we anticipate the need for clean fresh water, healthy food that does not require cooking, and some basic medical resources followed by home repair supplies. Gift cards to Home Depot and Lowes are always helpful."

FEMA assistance info

President Bush just declared 34 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes a federal disaster area, making residents there eligible for federal aid. This opens the door for people in those parishes to be eligible for temporary housing, housing repair funds, and “other needs” funds.

Read the White House press release here.

Read more about assistance programs and elligibility here.

Apply for FEMA aid here or call 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY 1-800-462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities)

FEMA will not provide financial assistance to evacuees

The following is an update from the Louisiana Justice Institute regarding FEMA's announcement that they will not be providing financial assistance to Gulf Coast evacuees.

Earlier today, the FEMA Director anounched the federal government would not be providing financila assistance ot Gulf Coast Gustav evacuees, but instead would rely on NGOs such as the Red Cross to provide food, shelter, and "comfort." The bottom line is that nearly 2 million of our friends, family and neighbors "voluntarily" evacuated the GUlf Coast region, and tehy cannot possibly return in one, two, or even three days. No doubt, trying to re-occupy cities from Lake Charles through New Orleans and South Louisiana will take time and money. "Comfort" ain't "Cash" and hotels require dollars, not prayers for payment!

Please call and write to Senator Landrieu and Senator Vitter, Governor Jindal and Mayor Nagin and demand:
  1. they provide an orderly porcess for the return of all residents to the greater New Orleans area, and the entire Gulf Coast region, and
  2. they force FEMA to provide cash compensation to evacuees in order to defray the cost for this extraordinary effort.
Senator Landrieu: 202-224-5824
Senator Vitter: 202-224-4623
Governor Jindal: 225-342-7015
Mayor Nagin: 504-658-4000

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

now we wait

now we wait for authorization to return home. some parishes are allowing residents to return to their homes even while power is still out and roads are being cleared. although the authorities have been hesitating to give an exact time and date when we can re-enter, most people will be home by friday.

for up-to-date information on re-entry and re-opening announcements, visit

Monday, September 1, 2008

local relief organizations - supplies needed

HOPE, an organization working in Violet, Louisiana since January 2006, will be prepared to provide relief aid to affected residents in St. Bernard Parish after Hurricane Gustav. keep posted to our website for updates once the storm subsides and we are allowed to re-enter the parish.

common ground relief in new orleans is posting hourly news updates from the lower 9th ward:

a new website just went up to help with coordinating relief efforts:

here's a basic list of what is needed right now for local relief organizations:
  • Generators: Diesel or Solar
  • Food, all kinds
  • Cooking Utensils (pots, pans, spoons, etc) for quantities of people
  • Water
  • Hygiene Supplies
  • Volunteer Health Care Providers (doctors, nurse practitioners, para-medics, herbalists, etc)
  • Medications
  • Emergency Health Clinic Type Equipment
  • Refrigerated Supply Van or a Refrigerated Truck & Trailer
  • Shovels
  • Respirators
  • Tyvek Suits
  • Crowbars
  • Hammers
  • Wheel Barrows
  • Huge Tents to Set Up Distribution Centers, Temporary Medical Clinics, Office Space, Living Quarters
  • OR... MODULAR STRUCTURES To Provide the Same
  • Bicycles
  • Chain Saws
  • Safety Goggles
  • Heavy Duty Work Gloves
feel free to contact HOPE for information on where to send supplies and donations.
hopeprojectstb AT gmail DOT com.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

as gustav approaches...

there will be news updates on the status of Violet, Louisiana and St. Bernard Parish here as we can re-enter the new orleans area. please keep posted... and keep your fingers crossed.

thanks. in love,
violet, la.