Strong opinions, weakly held

3qd update on Katrina recovery

The article focuses on how volunteers are helping with recovery. Interesting stuff:

Recovery efforts across the Gulf region are almost wholly driven by volunteer relief and reconstruction agencies, some of them bootstrap operations that did not exist prior to the storm. Many are funded by private donations from churches and community non-profits across the country; others receive a mix of corporate one-time grants and government-stipended volunteer staffers for a few months at a time, who can serve the recovery effort to reduce their college tuition (Americorps and its affiliates: National Civilian Community Corps, Volunteers in Service to America). The most well-known volunteer agency working in the region is Habitat for Humanity, whose slow progress was the subject of a recent NY Times article.

As someone who works on disaster relief programs worldwide, I was invited to come for a month and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various projects in New Orleans and Biloxi, two centers of urban devastation. The experience thus far has been surprisingly positive and inspiring, an unexpected antidote to my entrenched cynicism regarding relief efforts in places like Darfur or Congo, where I typically work.

The spirit of volunteerism that was incredibly helpful in the immediate aftermath of Katrina seems to remain.

1 Comment

  1. my spouse is going for a second trip down to help residents in the Katrina area (they went for a week last summer). real progress, but so little and so scattered, you wonder if a lot of people will already be gone….

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