Hurricane Katrina


This is from Progressive Democrats of America. Please call or email.

Fema Trailers

Push the Senate Today to Support Katrina Survivors

September 25th, 2007

100,000 displaced. 65,000 families still living in FEMA trailers. This is the Gulf Coast two years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. After years spent dragging its feet, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs is holding hearings today on the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act, the bill that will create a real road home for thousands of renters and owners in New Orleans and throughout the region.

Tell Chairman Dodd (D-CT) and the committee to move the legislation and bring Katrina survivors home.

The legislation, already passed in the House, will establish a right
to return for residents of public housing, release funds to create a
Road Home program that really works, designate $1.7 billion for rental housing and earmark millions for community development programs.

Read more about the bill here.

The legislation is finally on the agenda; let’s work together to make sure the Senate makes it a priority.

Send a letter today.

Thank you for standing up for just recovery in the Gulf…and nothing less.

Le’Kedra, Rosa, Ditra, Noeleen, Josué and Andre
The KIN Team

Many photos available here.

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Freckles is back to school and hoping to get back to real blogging when the homework settles down. In the mean time, political cartoons.

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rebuilding gulf coast after hurricane katrina

bush's legacyIt seems that George W is concerned about his legacy, and he is talking to a biographer named Robert Draper:

In book, Bush peeks ahead to his legacy

In an interview with a book author in the Oval Office one day last December, President George W. Bush daydreamed about the next phase of his life, when his time will be his own.

The articles talks about these kinds of issues

First, Bush said, “I’ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol’ coffers.” With joint assets that have been estimated at as high as nearly $21 million, Bush added, “I don’t know what my dad gets – it’s more than 50-75” thousand dollars a speech, and “Clinton’s making a lot of money.”

Then he said, “We’ll have a nice place in Dallas,” where he will be running what he called “a fantastic Freedom Institute” promoting democracy around the world. But he added, “I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch.”

and

The transcripts and the book show Bush as being keenly interested in what history will say about his term despite his frequent comments to the contrary; as being in a reflective mode as his time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue dwindles; and, ultimately, as being at once sorrowful and optimistic – but virtually alone as commander in chief, and aware of it.

Here is the worst line in the whole article:

And in apparent reference to the invasion of Iraq, he continued, “This group-think of ‘we all sat around and decided’ – there’s only one person that can decide, and that’s the president.”

HE just wants to make money, but I think that his real legacy will include these:

  1. a million people dead because of wars that we started
  2. 3000 dead at Ground Zero, flight 93 and the Pentagon, with bin Ladin still on the loose and not even a suspect by the CIA
  3. an unsolved anthrax terrorism case that killed five people
  4. increased opium exports all around the world
  5. privatization of everything from highways to schools to prisons hospitals to the maintenance of Walter Reed hospital and rehab
  6. many millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans with no access to decent health care when they need it
  7. the drowning of a city and a whole section of another state
  8. hard times for poor people, and a whole lot more poor people
  9. most of his administration resigning on him, and some of them being investigated and tried and convicted for crimes
  10. having the whole world hate us
  11. almost (I hope) starting a war with Iran
  12. stealing elections
  13. having hookers in the white house pretending to be reporters
  14. the giant corporations having a super time while the planet heats up and regular people suffer
  15. high gas prices and high prices to heat houses
  16. spying on Americans without a warrant or even telling the FISA court
  17. locking up Americans for years without a trial
  18. locking up thousands of other people in torture camps with no lawyers and no rights
  19. making students only learn stuff that is tested in April and not the important things in each subject

I bet George won’t talk about those things when he has speaking tours. (He’ll get more for one talk than my whole family has in a year!) What do you think his legacy will be? Can someone please call the Hague?

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at
Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

impeachThis is from Democrats.com:

Ten Reasons to Impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney

I ask Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney for the following reasons: 1. Violating the United Nations Charter by launching an illegal “War of Aggression” against Iraq without cause, using fraud to sell the war to Congress and the public, misusing government funds to begin bombing without Congressional authorization, and subjecting our military personnel to unnecessary harm, debilitating injuries, and deaths.

2. Violating U.S. and international law by authorizing the torture of thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and keeping prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

3. Violating the Constitution by arbitrarily detaining Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans, without due process, without charge, and without access to counsel.

4. Violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

5. Violating U.S. law and the Constitution through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of Americans without a warrant.

6. Violating the Constitution by using “signing statements” to defy hundreds of laws passed by Congress.

7. Violating U.S. and state law by obstructing honest elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.

8. Violating U.S. law by using paid propaganda and disinformation, selectively and misleadingly leaking classified information, and exposing the identity of a covert CIA operative working on sensitive WMD proliferation for political retribution.

9. Subverting the Constitution and abusing Presidential power by asserting a “Unitary Executive Theory” giving unlimited powers to the President, by obstructing efforts by Congress and the Courts to review and restrict Presidential actions, and by promoting and signing legislation negating the Bill of Rights and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

10. Gross negligence in failing to assist New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina, in ignoring urgent warnings of an Al Qaeda attack prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and in increasing air pollution causing global warming.

Buzzflash is having a contest (with cash prizes!) to list the
“Top 10 Reasons to Impeach Bush and Cheney”.

And here is one from AfterDowningStreet:

 

Accountability Demands Impeachment
Marcel J. Harmon, Ph.D.

I’m outraged – again.

I recently finished reading Seymour Hersh’s piece in the June 25th New Yorker on Army General Antonio Taguba’s investigation and resulting report regarding the Abu Ghraib scandal. In the third to last paragraph, Hersh quotes Taguba as follows: “’There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff’ – the explicit images – ‘was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.’ He [Taguba] said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.”

As I’ve done so many times before, I wondered again how this administration has managed to leave its six-year wake of political, social, economic, and environmental damage, in such an arrogant and incompetent manner, without more of a demand for accountability. I turned to my wife and again asked how we could begin impeachment proceedings against a president who lied about having sex, yet let the George W. administration skate.

But my wife simply replied, “I’m not going to waste my energy and time on this when nothing will get done – I’m just not going to get outraged.”

How many times have I heard others express the same sentiment? How many times have I let my own outrage fizzle as the day-to-day issues of life take over? The all-encompassing daily grind, our culture of consumption, and mind-numbing 24/7 mass media – all act as a distraction to the benefit of those in power. And the growing divide between the have and have-nots only magnifies our day-to-day struggle, further distracting us from the bigger picture. The corporate sector implicitly and explicitly promotes this for it’s own benefit, via corporate lobbying and huge political donations to both Democratic and Republican candidates.

But if any administration has deserved to be held accountable, it is this one.

The Bush administration started a war of choice in Iraq due to dubious intelligence and poor reasoning at best, and at worst by outright lying to the American public and bullying its critics. Our resulting role as the aggressor and extreme mismanagement of the war has taken the lives of US and coalition soldiers, private contractors, and countless Iraqi civilians. It has cost us over $500 billion, greatly reduced out standing in the world, functioned as a prime recruiting device for terrorists across the globe, and arguably made the world a less safe place to be.

Where is your outrage?

And what about Osama Bin Laden? Why has this administration failed to bring the architect of 9/11 to justice? The fiasco in Iraq has distracted us from bringing in the man who brought down the twin towers.

Where is your outrage?

This administration, through its placement of woefully unqualified individuals in charge of FEMA, it’s failure to grasp prior warnings, and lack of a quick initial reaction, greatly bungled the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf region.

Where is your outrage?

This administration’s misrepresentation of scientific data for its own agenda – its utter disregard for science – has delayed a proper US response to global warming. It has stymied stem-cell research, marginalized the position of Surgeon General, and may severely impact the recruitment of young people into the sciences for years to come.

Where is your outrage?

The administration was, at the very least, indirectly involved in the outing of a CIA agent, an act that when done knowingly is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The one bit of accountability that emerged from this scandal – the conviction and sentencing of Scooter Libby for lying to prosecutors – was muted after the president commuted his sentence.

And the list goes on. Yet Speaker Pelosi and other prominent democrats have said that impeachment is “off the table.” Why? Because it’s a “waste of time?” Or does it have more to do with political inconvenience?

Holding those in power accountable for their actions is critical for maintaining a functioning democracy. It can be messy. It can be painful. But it must be done – to remind our elected officials that they ultimately answer to the American public, and not to powerful corporate interests, not to the demands of their own egos, and certainly not to a personal ideology based on a narrow perception of God.

The outrage is growing. A July 6th pole by the American Research Group indicates that 45 percent of Americans favor initiating impeachment proceedings against the president, and 54 percent favor impeaching the vice president. Congress could very well act on this, but it’s unlikely unless we demand this of our elected officials.

Where is your outrage?

Some of these are funny! Some are old, but so what?

1. Bush: End of an Error

2. That’s OK, I Wasn’t Using My Civil Liberties Anyway

3. Let’s Fix Democracy in this Country First

4. If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran

5. Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.

6. If You Can Read This, You’re Not Our President.

7. Of Course It Hurts: You’re Getting Screwed by an Elephant

8. Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?

9. George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight

10. Impeachment: It’s Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore

11. America: One Nation, Under Surveillance

12. They Call Him “W”, So He Can Spell It

13 Whose God Do You Kill For?

14. Jail to the Chief!

15. No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq?

16. Bush: God’s Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap.

17. Bad President! No Banana.

18. We Need a President Who’s Fluent In At Least One Language.

19. We’re Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them.

20 Is It Vietnam or Korea Yet?

21. Bush Doesn’t Care About White People, Either.

22. Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?

23. You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.

24. Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out, Too.

25. When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46.

26. Pray For Impeachment.

27. The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century

28. What Part of “Bush Lied” Don’t You Understand?

29. One Nation Under Clod

30. 2004: Embarrassed 2005: Horrified 2006: Terrified 2007

31. Bush Never Exhaled

32. At Least Nixon Resigned

Every time the Bush administration has proposed and passed a new initiative, it seems that the end result is the opposite of whatever they named it to begin with. Here are a few that I came up with that turned out to serve corporate America rather than the US citizens, in spite of what the name implied.

Let’s see how many of these the Democratic congress can overturn.

Republican vocabulary chart new and revised

Chart revised 4/22/07.  Additional terms and definitions are welcome.

UPDATE: Michael Stettler will be interviewed on the radio on Monday 3/26/07 in the third hour of Bob Kincaid’s show on Head-On. The show is on from 6-9pm Eastern time.

This article is cross posted at Political Teen Tidbits and the Texas Mission Site.

destruction of houses in PascagoulaPascagoula, Mississippi is one of those places that’s really hard to spell. Maybe that is why FEMA and the assistance organizations are having such a hard time finding it.

Or

maybe not.

Pascagoula is the county seat for Jackson County and had 26,200 people in 2000 according to its census. Here you can find the history of the city.


Michael Stettler is currently in Pascagoula, Mississippi as a volunteer with the Jackson County Community Services Coalition.

Michael is an electrician and a congressional candidate but a lot of what he is doing in Mississippi is assessing the housing needs of the clients Jim Yancey sees at Jackson County Community Services Coalition.

mold and damage in a house in PascagoulaMichael (or Stetty) is working and living in an old school gym that is still set up as a shelter 19 months after Hurricane Katrina hit, but he is driving to houses all over Jackson County that are still not fixed up. He is helping to see what they need, and then other people help get it installed. There are also lots of volunteers and college students on Spring Break that help with the construction.

Some homeowners got some money from FEMA but they got ripped off by contractors and roofers. Some families have not gotten any money or not nearly enough money. Stetty reports that although 95% of homeowners have at least had their assessment done, he hasn’t seen any houses that are completely fixed from the hurricane’s wind and water. He has met many people whose houses still smell terrible from water damage and mold, and no one has cleaned up the mold or put in new carpets or floors.

Look at this map of Pascagoula.

Google Map Of Pascagoula

The oval looking white area is where thousands and thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina a year and a half ago still live in very unsafe trailer park. All of the blue squares are where people still have tarps instead of real roof for their houses.

More pix here (click to enlarge):

pascagoula03.jpg  pascagoula05.jpg  pascagoula07.jpg

Please write to all of your representatives and senators in Washington and tell them that we can’t let Americans keep on living like this. It is unAmerican!

Trailer park in Pascagoula

Where and how was the original money spent? On real people or on the contractors? Want to help just in case Mr. Bush doesn’t keep his word 100%? Click here.

The New York Times

 


March 1, 2007Bush in gulf coast

Bush Vows to Speed Up Aid for Gulf Coast

BILOXI, Miss., March 1 — President Bush traveled today to the Gulf Coast, still trying to recover from the winds and floods of 2005, and vowed to do everything he could to speed up federal assistance.

“Of the things I’ve heard loud and clear is that there’s a continued frustration with the slowness of federal response at times,” Mr. Bush said at Biloxi City Hall after meeting with public officials and community leaders. “And therefore it’s important for me to hear that, and my friend Don Powell to hear that, so that we can come and do what the people expect us to do, which is to respond to the needs of people in Mississippi.”

Mr. Powell, the federal coordinator of rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast, said on the flight from Washington that “we all have a sense of urgency” about the region. “Is there more work to be done?” he said aboard Air Force One. “Absolutely.”

The president was accompanied by Gov. Haley Barbour, whom he praised for his leadership during and after the storm.

“And he, along with two fine United States senators, are constantly talking to the White House in pretty plain language about what more needs to be done,” Mr. Bush said, referring to Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, both Republicans. “And I hope he would say that we listen and if possible respond in a constructive way.”

The visit by the president, which was to include a tour of parts of New Orleans, is his 14th to the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina struck in the late summer 2005, and Mr. Powell said on Air Force One that it was further evidence of a continuing commitment to rebuild the region.

Mr. Powell said that about $110 billion in recovery aid had been appropriated for Louisiana and Mississippi, and that about $53 billion had actually been spent. “It is important that local officials push” to get money into the hands of people who need it, Mr. Powell said.

The initial response to the hurricane and flooding was criticized at the federal, state and local levels. But the Bush administration suffered a bad public relations blemish when the president complimented Michael D. Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for doing “a heck of a job” even as the agency was being criticized for its slow and clumsy response. Mr. Brown resigned soon afterward.

If Mr. Bush took a “we’ve learned our lesson” approach today, he also pointed to progress. Walking through Long Beach, not far from Biloxi, he recalled how much better things look now than they did on his first post-Katrina trip, when he saw “piles of rubble, literally debris stacked upon debris.”

Mr. Bush looked relaxed as he bantered with Long Beach residents. Nellie Partridge, 84, was sitting on her porch when the president and Governor Barbour showed up. Ms. Partridge hugged Mr. Bush and called him “one of my favorite people.”

“There’s no telling who’s going to show up,” Mr. Bush said.

Robert Pear reported from Biloxi, Miss., and David Stout from Washington.

The LA Times has just figured out what people in the National Guard have known for years. The Guard is here to protect people IN THEIR STATES, or maybe the state next door, and NOT to go be combat troops. Why is it news to them that if you send the Guard and all their equipment overseas then they don’t have enough left at home? What happens when the next hurricane hits? DUH!!!!!

Why do you think they didn’t mention Louisiana or Mississippi and Hurricane Katrina ???

Governors warn of troop buildup’s impact on Guard

Both Republicans and Democrats say Bush’s Iraq plan will tax

already strained units.

 

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Times Staff Writer
February 25, 2007

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic governors meeting here Saturday warned that President Bush’s “surge” of additional troops to Iraq would put added pressure on National Guard units already stretched to their limits.

“We the governors rely on the Guard to respond to natural disasters, a pandemic or terrorist attack,” said North Carolina Gov. Michael F. Easley, a Democrat. “Currently, we don’t have the manpower or the equipment to perform that dual role” of responding to both state and federal needs.

The Pentagon last week announced plans to send 14,000 National Guard members to Iraq next year as support for the 21,500 troops to be deployed under Bush’s plan. The announcement came on the heels of a change in Pentagon policy to deploy Guard troops more frequently but to limit tours to a year; the average now is 18 months.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said the federal government must
follow through on its pledge to replace equipment taken by Guard troops to Iraq.

“Those promises need to be kept,” Pawlenty said. “We’ll be able to test that, because we have a significant number coming back this summer. We’ll be able to see if the equipment comes back.”

The governors’ willingness to challenge the buildup reflects overall impatience with Washington, which has inspired a slew of state initiatives to tackle such issues as global warming, energy efficiency and healthcare.

Eighty-eight percent of stateside Army National Guard units are “very poorly equipped,” with less than half of what they need to respond to a domestic crisis, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum testified a few weeks ago to the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves.

Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, coordinates between the states and the Pentagon.

He said 45% of Air National Guard units lacked the necessary equipment to deploy.

Last month, National Guard officials notified commanders in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio that their combat brigades — each about 3,500 strong — might be the first to return to Iraq under the new guidelines, redeploying between January and July of next year. All four states sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2004. Under the old rules, Oklahoma was not scheduled to be called on again until 2010; the other three states, 2009.

In interviews, National Guard officials in Arkansas, Indiana and Oklahoma said their units were short on rifles and other basic equipment.

“We are hurting in equipment nationally, Guard-wide,” said Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson of the Indiana National Guard.

Governors, in town for a National Governors Assn. meeting, plan to raise the issue Monday at a White House session with Bush. Guard officials plan to talk to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates about it Tuesday.

“We will do all that we can to support the effort, but getting the equipment to do that will be a challenge,” said Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke, head of the Nebraska National Guard and president of the Adjutants General Assn. of the United States.

Equipping the Guard is of particular concern in states such as California and Florida, where troops are routinely called to respond to natural disasters like hurricanes and forest fires.

“We want to protect our troops and make sure they have what they need to deal with natural disasters,” said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican.

Gov. Easley of North Carolina called National Guard equipment levels across the country “putridly inadequate.”

And without adequate equipment, he said, the National Guard’s role in the buildup would amount to “a squandered mobilization.”

With plans to increase the frequency of Guard deployments — now once every
six years — North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, a Republican, said that getting enough troops for a second rotation in Iraq was “a concern.”

The governors association president, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat who has advocated sending National Guard troops to secure the
U.S.-Mexico border, said the Guard was “being stretched” to respond to the buildup.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, is reviewing the plans with his National Guard leadership to assess the impact on the state. He has advocated doing what’s necessary to ensure success in Iraq but said he would not support a policy jeopardizing California’s safety.


molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

I am not a big football fan. But my brother is and so we watch a lot of football. Just now, on FOX, they had a story about how New Orleans still isn’t recovered from Katrina and the flooding. nfl fox logo

They mentioned the 9th ward and showed damaged houses and talked to victims who haven’t been able to re-build. Of course there wasn’t any mention of what happened to all the money George W promised them, but at least it was on the air.

NFL

If Jackson County Mississippi had a really good football team, you’d hear a lot about the people there that are still in trailers instead of real housing. Since they don’t, click here to read and help, and click here if you are in Texas and can help us collect furniture and appliances.

—Freckles

Good blogs regarding re-building and poltics in New Orleans:

http://www.neworleansvfp.org/taxonomy/term/20

NOLA

Pix of the damage in Mississippi

Our LA & MS pix of the continued damage

trailer camps in the 9th ward
Tent City in New Orleans 9th ward

I don’t know for sure, but I think that all the contributors to this blog are all teens. I know for sure that two of them are. It’s a really cool site even though it is so professional that I feel I write like a 10-yr-old. Anyway, here’s BLUE STATE OBSERVER.

—-Freckles

.

No dates yet, but at least a site where we will give details of the mission to deliver building supplies and appliances to Jackson County, Mississippi.
 http://texastoms.headonradionetwork.com/

—-Freckles

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for new photos.

This is what I wrote a few weeks ago about Hurricane Katrina.

https://frecklescassie.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/helping-the-people-who-are-still-suffering-after-hurricane-katrina/

Stay tuned to this blog for more info about the donations collection for furniture, appliances, and building materials. Trip will be early February. The truck will be going from Little Elm, TX to Dallas, then Austin, then San Antonio, and finally to Jackson County Mississippi. This is the full list of what Jackson County is asking for:

Here is a list of the items we most need in Jackson County. This list came from our survey assessments and from people on the ground that have been working in the storm surge areas for the past 16 months.
  1. Sheet rock
  2. Roofing shingles and felt
  3. 2 x 4 studs
  4. Refrigerators
  5. stove, gas or electric
  6. washers
  7. dryers
  8. Furniture, Chairs and/or couches for living rooms
  9. Microwave ovens
  10. Standard size doors (Inside)
  11. Tennis shoes for children and youth
  12. Queen/double size matresses
  13. Funds to purchase:
    • Groceries for senior citizens and families that have both or if there is only one parent on disability.
    • Turn on electricity in rental units, (costs between $90 – $140 per household) landlords require a down payment before a rentor can move into the property.
    • Medications for senior citizens on fixed incomes and families with parents that have both or if there is only one parent on disability.
The Jackson County Community Services Coalition is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit and we can purchase any of the above items locally and distribute to those in need if individuals or groups want to send financial support instead of paying the freight charges to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whatever you may decide, thank you for your support and help. For those considering on supporting these efforts for your information the Community Coalition has an independent audit completed yearly by a CPA.


Thanks,
—Freckles

trailer-park.gif

fema trailers

everything is lost

Jackson County

I read this post on Buzzflash and it got me thinking …..

Where does the government want poor people to live? Do they want poor to disappear? To die? To live in tent cities or crowded trailers? I understand wanting to have a mixed neighborhood and wanting people to live in nicer communities and learn good values from each other, but what happens to all the people whose apartments DON’T get re-built?

What happens in a person’s brain or a government’s plans that they want to think only of the rich and not of the poor? Can’t we please have America back? PLEASE!

—Freckles

Bill Quigley: Why Is HUD Bulldozing Public Housing Apts in New Orleans When It’s Cheaper to Fix Them?

Tale of Two Sisters: Why Is HUD Using Tens of Millions of Katrina Money to Bulldoze 4534 Public Housing Apartments in New Orleans When It Costs Less to Repair and Open Them Up?

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Bill Quigley

Gloria Williams and her twin sister Bobbie Jennings are 60 years old. They are two of the over 4000 families who lived in public housing in New Orleans before Katrina struck who are still locked out of their apartments since Katrina. Their apartments are two of 4534 apartments that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced plans to demolish. Demolition is planned even though it will cost more to demolish and rebuild many fewer units than it does to fix them up and open them. Ms. Williams and Ms. Jennings, and thousands of families like them, are fighting HUD, they want to return.

Gloria and Bobbie started working early. As children they picked cotton, strawberries, snap beans and pecans before and after grade school every day in rural Louisiana. “We were raised up to work,” they said.

They moved to New Orleans after their father drowned. Their home was marked by regular domestic violence. A few years later, their mother was murdered by a boyfriend.

As teens they moved in with an abusive relative. They ran away, came back, and stayed with other relatives. They can even remember nights when they slept under their aunt’s bed in a hospital while waiting for her to recuperate.

As young women they continued working. They worked in restaurants before starting careers as Certified Nursing Assistants. Then they worked for years in nursing homes and in private homes caring for the elderly and disabled. They fed people, cleaned people, bathed people, cared for people. Each married and raised children and grandchildren. Like 25% of the households in New Orleans, neither owned a car.

Both sisters are now 60. In the past few years, their years of physical work took its toil and they could not longer work. Ms. Jennings had back surgery and suffers with high blood pressure. Ms. Williams has heart and lung problems, high blood pressure, and clots in her legs that prevent her from standing or walking for long periods. Each lives solely on about $600 a month from disability. No pensions.

When Katrina hit, they had been living in the C.J. Peete apartments for years. Ms. Bobbie Jennings had been there for 34 years. Her twin sister, Ms. Gloria Williams lived there for over 18 years.

Their combined families, 18 in all, evacuated to Baton Rouge to ride out the storm. When it was clear they would not be going home any time soon, their host family told them it was time to move on. In September 2005, the family of 18 moved into one daughter’s damaged home in Slidell, about 30 miles away from New Orleans – all sleeping on the first floor because the roof was still damaged.

One of their sisters, Annie, was in the hospital with cancer when Katrina hit. It took the family weeks before the finally found her in a hospital in Macon, Georgia.

When the city opened, they got rides into town and checked on their apartments. No water had entered their apartments at all. But their doors had been kicked down and all their furnishings were gone. The housing authority told them they could not move back in for a couple more months while their apartments were secured and fixed up. The housing authority started fixing up and painting apartments in her complex, but abruptly stopped after a few weeks.

Slidell was getting tight, so they accepted an offer to relocate to California. After a month, they returned. Being 3000 miles apart from family was too heartbreaking. A four day bus ride brought them back to Slidell in January 2006. After hitching rides into New Orleans, Ms. Williams found a subsidized apartment. The only way the landlord would accept her, though, was if she paid him an extra $400 under the table. Otherwise, he would rent it to someone else who would.

So Ms. Williams paid the extra money and moved in with her grandchildren while she waited for her old apartment to reopen. She used FEMA money to buy new furniture. In late February 2005, Ms. Williams was hospitalized for three weeks for surgeries on her legs.

In June 2005, HUD announced they were not going to let any residents back in her apartment complex and three others (Lafitte, St. Bernard and BW Cooper) because they were going to be demolished. Over one hundred maintenance and security workers for the housing authority were let go. HUD took over the local housing authority years ago and all these decisions are being made in Washington DC.

The demolished buildings would make way for much newer and many fewer apartments which would be built by private developers. The demolition and private development would be financed by federal funds and federal tax breaks designed to help Katrina victims!

Nearly $100 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds were designated for the private developers. Another $34 million in Katrina Go-Zone tax credits were also donated to the developers. (more…)

I know a baby who was born the same day that hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. He can already walk and say about 20 words and wave bye-bye and climb a few steps. His mom is already pregnant with another baby. He pours things out of a bag and then puts them all back. But the US government and the insurance companies still can’t manage to get help to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi who lost their homes, their jobs, their relatives and their way of life.

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There are many organizations that ARE helping these people, using the money that you and I send them without going through the government and the contractors. Here’s one that I strongly recommend: Jackson County Community Services Coalition. I am 15 and earn money by babysitting during school vacations and by doing odd jobs during the school year. If I can afford to send $20, chances are that you can too.

Let’s please help get our fellow Americans to get their lives back together.

Here are some other links you may want to check out.

Please do give money to Jackson County Community Services Coalition .

Freckles Cassle

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