Hurricane Katrina Recovery Task Force
Larry Hayes and Byron Parker
The Hurricane Katrina/Rita Recovery Task Force was created by NABSW National President, Dr. Gloria Batiste-Roberts, as an organizational response to the most recent natural and human-made disasters that have disproportionately impacted persons of African Ancestry. The primary purpose of the task force is to: provide immediate and long-term assistance; advocacy; and to develop the quantity and quality of resources available to displaced and disillusioned “Afrikan” people.
The federal government allocated funds to the various states affected to assist those who experienced the “Maafa”, but the funds have yet to get to those in need. The states that experienced the most damage were Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Alabama and Mississippi have seemingly accommodated the needs of its citizens by quickly assisting impacted persons with rebuilding and/ or the provision of needed resources required for them to return home.
The State of Louisiana’s “Road to Louisiana” has provided less than 500 persons with stipends, which fell very short of the advertised $150,000. Additionally, a number of parishes in the State of Louisiana have instituted the “Good Neighbor Laws” which fined property owners for: not cutting their grass; not gutting their homes in a “timely manner”; not boarding their windows and doors, etc.
Additional Katrina related concerns include: the significant increase to the cost of rental housing in Louisiana; failure of the City of New Orleans to open public schools for several months following Hurricane Katrina, too few hospitals or agencies in the City of New Orleans to assist the poor with healthcare needs, the New Orleans murder rate has risen to one of the highest in the United States, the suicide rate for Afrikaans has become a major concern (most notably a reported 7 African women having hung themselves in the month of January 2007 alone), and with the increased cost of living, the number of drug related arrests have increased, possibly related to self-medicating of post traumatic stress, depression and other symptoms.
The goal of the Hurricane Katrina Recovery Committee is to keep the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the forefront. The committee would like to ensure that the public is aware of the ongoing suffering of citizens, particularly in the City of New Orleans. We plan to network with individuals and organizations to strengthen and develop intervention strategies geared towards assisting Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and persons currently residing in the city financially, socially, emotionally, etc.
The City of Houston assisted thousands of persons who were internally displaced by receiving a grant to provide empowerment seminars, job training and mental health assessments and counseling, transportation services, outreach and other types of services to further assist survivors with adjustment to the city. Additionally, pro-bono counseling services, housing assistance, and community empowerment groups were/are being provided to IDP in the Metro-Atlanta area as well.
The Katrina Recovery Committee goals for 2007 are to continue to provide needed therapeutic interventions to individuals, families, groups and communities and to participate in national and international tribunals. We feel a tribunal would be one of the most affective means of assisting persons victimized by the government’s violation of their human rights initially and continually in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. NABSW members and leadership is currently working with agencies and organizations that will continue to assist hurricane- impacted families with rebuilding their homes free of charge.