New Orleans Post-Katrina Recovery
Disaster Response by Adventist Community Services (ACS) Team
Oct. 10-24, 2010, a team of 12 individuals from the Vancouver/Portland and Salem metro SDA churches participated in a series of disaster response projects aimed at restoring homes in the New Orleans metro area in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Community Services related effort was coordinated by Sam Pellecer, State ACS Disaster Response Coordinator and Rhonda Whitney, Oregon Conference Adventist Community Services Director.
Adventist Community Services networked with local New Orleans based recovery organizations to provide help with continuing recovery efforts that are still much needed five years after Katrina. Minnie McNeil, Prison and Women’s Ministry Director of the Allegheny East Conference was also a key contact in the coordination process.
The first task the team completed was the installation of chain-link fencing around New Orleans Adventist Elementary Academy. The finishing of the fence enables the Academy to receive a grant for playground equipment. Without a fenced enclosure the school could not qualify for such aid.
Another project involved painting the newly refurbished home of a displaced elderly couple in the East New Orleans community. The 3,000 square foot home was one of many thousands of homes flooded at the time of the levee collapse during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This couple has been living with relatives in Huntsville, Alabama in the intervening years since the hurricane. This is typical of the circumstances many flood victims have experienced. The couple’s son confided to us that he has lived in four different places during this time. He is doing all in his power to help his parents be able to return to their home.
The final project the team was able to undertake was putting down flooring and tiling in the home of a very elderly woman who dream was to be able to return to her home before she dies. She cherishes being able to return to the home she raised her family in. Most residents of New Orleans are very attached to their local culture and life and naturally prefer to stay with what they know. Providentially we were able to finish our part of the restoration project completing it literally within hours of leaving on the plane to return home!
For the most part it was a very pleasant work experience but it was warm! Temperatures during the day averaged between 75-85 degrees with 80-90% humidity.
The population of New Orleans is back to around 70% of what it was prior to Katrina. There is still much damage to local infrastructure and many homes stand empty and desolated. In the most badly affected areas there is an average of one in five homes that are gutted or unrepaired. In the poorest neighborhoods, like the lower ninth ward where the levee burst, the average is more like one in four.
If you have an interest in helping in a post-Katrina reconstruction effort please contact the Oregon Conference at 503-850-3555 or email Linda Schrader at Linda.Schrader@oc.npuc.org.
For donations, send them to:
Adventist Community Services (ACS)
19800 Oatfield Road
Gladstone OR 97027-2546
Or mark your tithe envelope ACS DR