Friday, December 12, 2008

Gulf Coast Recovery

In Biloxi I  picked up a directory of groups working on post hurricane recovery issues -- One Nation, One Gulf, One Promise: Organizations working toward Gulf Coast Recovery.  It lists 80 organizations while admitting the list isn't comprehensive.  There are some national organizations like Oxfam America but it doesn't seem to include coastal Texas groups dealing with Hurricane Rita or  Alabama groups.  This says to me that for every group documented in some way -- a funders report, a regional collaboration -- there are probably 2 or 5 or 10 other efforts at survival and recovery. 

One group I met in Biloxi described recovery needing a full seven years before their towns and neighborhoods are anything like "normal".  Everyone in the room agreed while acknowledging that the economic downturn will probably add a year or two to that timeline.  Imagine trying to refinance the mortgage for the part of the house your insurance didn't cover when it got washed away, finally get the FEMA/HUD/Road Home federal and state money to clear your lot (well that took two years), test for environmental hazards and start to rebuild and then have the banks freeze up on you.  Its more than frustrating.

Biloxi is being overwhelmed by casinos who have been given peoples' land and access to the gulf but now are laying off their workers.  Women, mostly, are making great efforts on a daily basis to make sure people have food, someplace to sleep and that the kids might have Christmas.

And then there is the environmental and labor organizing.  More on that later.

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