Aug 31, 2008


If you Google my name and New Orleans together, it's very clear I try very hard to support the place to the best of my ability because it is a place close to my heart.

I believe in helping where and when we are able when the opportunity presents itself, and so gave money and food to various organizations to support people and animals in the hours and days following the levees breaking during Hurricane Katrina and, as some of you probably know, when I started Pilcrow Lit Fest, I already knew I wanted it to support the New Orleans Public Libraries, and did. Maybe it seems far away and resolved to some people, which is fair enough. Eighty percent of New Orleans flooded when the levees failed. That's 160 square miles of homes, businesses, schools and libraries-- roughly the size of seven Manhattan Islands-- and stayd under water for weeks. And that's just New Orleans proper. Communities nearby like Slidell, Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula had much of the same with which to contend.

Some areas of the gulf have made decent progress in rebuilding, most areas have not. Crime is high, many people are angry and feel forgotten; many are. So much is still so far from being repaired, so many people are still in such great need; yet Kim Kardashian cutting her toe on a coffee table is all over eight networks. That's an awful testament to our compassion, collectively.

(Aside: Blaming the media is useless. While it's maybe a poor choice to cover some of the fluff that does get covered, it's still up to each of us to go find information. We have greater access than ever to resources and information, yet we, more and more, wait for information to be given to us. Some do this, some do not, but I think it bears repeating and considering.)

Hurricane Gustav is heading to the Gulf Coast, potentially and probably right to New Orleans and surrounding cities. Cities that are still weakened from three years ago. At least two major areas of New Orleans' levee system are horribly under-repaired near St. Bernard Parish and Harvey Canal/west bank. Not good.

Communities are going to, undoubtedly, need support and resources, and from many directions and sources. I offer some suggestions and encourage you to donate time and money as you are able. Some are religious organizations, some are secular; all are working to support Gulf Coast communities:

Catholic Charities USA's Disaster Response Team is already nearby, waiting to partner with local Catholic organizations to dispense aid after Hurrican Gustav including clean water, food, cleaning supplies and toiletries. Click to contribute to Catholic Charities USA's response efforts or call (800) 919-9338.

Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is accepting post-storm volunteers and goods. Email jfsvolunteer (at) gmail (dot) com. Jewish Federation of New Orleans is welcoming evacuees at Camp Jacob, and welcoming disaster relief donations via their exisiting Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, as is the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge.

UPDATED: Jewish Family Services of Greater Dallas issued a bullet-point list of actions and disaster relief information that I found particularly useful. I most like that the author of this list made a point to mention the emotional impact of evacuation, property destruction and displacement. (Hat tip to AngerBoy for this information.)

Direct Relief International has sent supplies to distribute in highest-risk areas and is in the post-Gustav Caribbean areas already.

Hands on New Orleans (I'll admit that I don't know a ton of this organization, other than what I've been told secondhand) is working to support local and state agencies and organizations to help facilitate a highly-coordinated response after Gustav. They've asked for funds to operate volunteer centers and to deploy a first-responder team (click here) as well as various items and goods (click here).

The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LDRF), is expediting resources to Gulf Coastal agencies to help with evacuation, already helping the Lafayette Restoration Center move seniors and people with special needs out of New Orleans and to safety. Visit the LDRF website to find out how to donate, by clicking here.

Operation USA, an international disaster relief agency, is partnering with community health clinics to anticipate needs resulting from the evacuation of millions of people and in the hours and days immediately following Gustav making landfall. Operation USA is asking people, foundations and companies for donations and relief supplies to enable it to respond effectively.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) feeds people, evacuees in particular, but really anyone. Over one hundred SBDR food centers have been alerted to be ready to mobilize along the Gulf Coast, four centers in Texas are already up. They need foods and funding.

World Vision, an international Christian relief agency, has readied emergency supplies in Picayune, Mississippi, and truckloads of additional goods are on standby in Dallas and other U.S. locations. The organization's domestic disaster response teams are also on standby today, with expert staff prepared to deploy from around the country as needed after Gustav.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has already helped evacuate animals from animal shelters throughout the Gulf Coast. ASPCA's disaster response team is on site in Shreveport at the Louisiana Megashelter, where animals belonging to evacuees are arriving and are being cared for; homeless animals in shelters are being transferred to agencies outside of the areas at risk. (Also information on disaster preparedness for animals can be found here.) Support them via their website.

Former presidents George (HW) Bush and Bill Clinton are urging persons to contribute via USA Freedom Corps.

Save The Children has called for aid to support their US disaster relief team to help children and families as they arrive in evacuation centers throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, click here to earmark contributions for this effort.

Will update this list as made aware of organizations calling for aid.


Dr. Ding said...

Thank you for this timely list! I have family and friends there who have safely evacuated but are awaiting their fate. Loved the point about Kim Kardassian.

Um. About the stalking part. Should I start now? Now? What about now. Now? ;)

Dr. Ding

Bubs said...

What a fantastic, comprehensive and useful list. Thank you! I'm going to forward this to all my friends and family.

Amy Guth said...

Thank you both!

Anonymous said...

Most importantly thank you for all the good guthy vibe ... I just returned from my evacuation vacation ...