Monday, August 30, 2010
This morning I was reading a few articles about President Obama’s commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The first family traveled to New Orleans where the President addressed Xavier University yesterday.
As the articles discussed the President’s official business in ‘The Big Easy,’ I found it interesting that most of them made it a point to mention the President’s lunch. His speech, visit to a local housing development, and even meetings with hurricane survivors did not overshadow his sumptuous shrimp po’boy.
Why was the seafood sub such a big deal?
A few thoughts:
1.The strength of small businesses gives a fair read on the pulse of the economy, and a mom & pop restaurant sure looks hopeful and healthy when you have the President as a patron. Plus, it’s exciting for locals!
2. Food is comfort, especially during hard times.
3. Identity is often linked to food. What better way to affirm a recovering community than to chow down on a traditional meal that represents what New Orleans is about?
In fact, The Times-Picayune recently ran an article about how Hurricane Katrina affected the New Orleans food culture.
Item #3 on the list: Locals’ Appreciation for Food Deepened.
The article quotes a director of a New Orleans non-profit as saying, “In a very intense, concentrated space of time, people found out what really mattered to them. Food became the most important rituals of our lives.”
Item #8 on the list: New Orleanians began cooking all over the country.
This point was most interesting to me since NPR just ran a segment that featured a displaced New Orleanian. Patrick Wooten and his family were air lifted to shelter when their neighborhood of Algiers flooded during the hurricane. They’ve permanently relocated to Plymouth, MA where Patrick now works as a chef at The Salvation Army. Though the setting is a lot different than New Orleans, Patrick keeps in touch with his Cajun roots by serving up home cooking at The Salvation Army kitchen. What a great way to remember and share his Creole culture!
Lucky for us, Patrick shared with NPR his Dirty Rice recipe that he made on Sunday to remember the 5th anniversary of Katrina. I’m including it below for anyone who’d like a New Orleans culinary lesson:
Recipe: Patrick Wooten’s Dirty Rice (Serves six)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Andouille sausage
1/2 pound ham steak, cubed
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Uncle Ben’s white rice
o Brown the meat until beef is no longer pink.
o Add Worcestershire sauce.
o Remove meat from pan and saute vegetables in the leftover oil.
o Add cooked rice and more Worcestershire sauce to taste.
o While it cooks down, “sit and wait like a pit bull.”
Friday, August 27, 2010
It’s difficult to imagine how hard it must have been for Gulf Coast residents to lose their homes and be displaced for months, sometimes years, after Hurricane Katrina. But to be diagnosed with a terminal disease on top of that? It seems it’d be too much for a person to handle.
In today’s video, Sheriff Bryan White shares the story of his dear friend Frank and how The Salvation Army helped fulfill his dying wish.
Read more in our report “Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years On” about how The Salvation Army has provided relief to the Gulf Coast and helps it to continue to move forward.
In addition, I’m including a few recent headlines about Katrina’s anniversary and the Gulf Coast:
* New York Daily News: Obama Admin Awards $25M in Katrina Funds
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Almost two years following Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi resident Kathlene Meier says she was still trying to rebuild her home pay check by pay check with only the help of her family, a process she expected would take many more years.
Imagine her relief when a knock on her door one day from a surprise visitor from The Salvation Army led to them receiving all the supplies they needed to complete their house. Kathlene shares the details of her story in the video above.
Kathlene is one of many people who found help rebuilding her home through The Salvation Army. We opened 84,000 cases helping 350,000 people with 84,000 with repair, rebuilding, furnishings and supplies.
Read more in our Katrina 5 Year Report about how The Salvation Army provided relief to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina and continues to strengthen communities.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Since The Salvation Army began disastery recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, we have assisted more than 2.6 million people affected by the storm.
As one part of our multi-pronged community recovery plan, The Salvation Army opened eight major distribution centers along the Gulf Coast where clients, many of whom lost a significant amount or all of their possessions in the hurricane, could find free donated items like furniture and large appliances. More than 106,100 families received assistance this way.
We also set up Disaster Assistance Centers, where those in need could find critical information as well as food and clothing. Caseworkers provided a vital service at these centers helping clients register for Salvation Army services. The Army opened 265,100 cases representing over 828,000 individuals.
Wanda and Emmett Pillault, featured in today’s video, describe the help they found at The Salvation Army when their home was severely damaged as a result of Katrina.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Major Dennis Gensler, The Salvation Army’s Secretary for Business in the Pakistan Territory, was interviewed today on the current flooding in Pakistan. He spoke with The Path, a Christian radio station of Cedarville University in Ohio. If you weren’t able to catch it live, visit the station’s website here and click on the ‘News’ section where the segment will be uploaded soon.
You may have already read about the state of Pakistan as seen through Major Gensler’s eyes from a blog post we featured last week. He also has his own blog which he updates pretty often with details about his interactions with flooded communities, along with plenty of pictures. You can follow his efforts at http://majorgensler.blogspot.com/. It provides a more personal view than what you’ll read in most news stories.
Since our last update The Salvation Army conducted its third major Pakistan flood relief distribution of quilts, pillows, mattresses and kitchen utensils to 77 families on Saturday. This took place in Nowshera, which is on the bank of the River Kabul and has been badly affected by the floods.
These seemingly simple supplies are critically needed by drenched communities still wading through standing water and ubiquitous mud. Staying dry is important to combating threats that survivors face in the aftermath such as epidemic illnesses and water-borne diseases. As a Pakistani flood survivor suggests in a BBC report, aid in the form of dry bedding and clothes may be as important as food.
Pakistan FLood ReliefWith so many still in need, The Salvation Army continues to consider how we can best provide help to Pakistan.
If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s flood relief efforts, you can donate by clicking here.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
As we approach the 5th year anniversary of Katrina, the nation is reflecting this week on tragedy that befell the Gulf Coast so many years ago and how the area has pressed on since. As an integral part of the community, The Salvation Army was there before the storm, and we were there after working to provide support and help rebuild.
The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Division posted an album on their Facebook page that looks back at their efforts to help those in need during the immediate aftermath. From serving food to providing medical support, The Salvation Army was a shining light during a very dark time.
But as we think back on the past five years, we also continue to look forward.
As a part of continuing recovery efforts, The Salvation Army is investing in projects, communities and individual lives in order to help the area become even stronger than before.
“When the Winds Died Down” gives a personal look at how members of the Gulf Coast community found support and hope from The Salvation Army. We’ll continue to post a new video each day this week that delves further into each individual’s personal story and how The Salvation Army helped them rebuild.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Hurricane Katrina displaced almost all of the New Orleans population when it slammed the Gulf Coast five years ago. Studies show that only about half of the population had returned a year later, increasing to two-thirds by fall of 2007.
While living in southeast Texas, I was surprised by how many people I met during the year following Hurricane Katrina who were hurricane evacuees still waiting to return home. They said they either had no where left to go or the conditions just weren’t liveable. Some said they decided to not go back at all. These conversations made me realize that restoring New Orleans was more than just cleaning up debris and reconstructing buildings. The heart and soul of the ‘Big Easy’ was its residents, but its residents were finding it very difficult to be able to return and thrive back home.
The Salvation Army of New Orleans recognized this problem and launched EnviRenew, a strategy to renew communities through continued Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Envirenew began in 2006 and continues to find innovative ways to strengthen New Orleans.
Pictured is an affordable, energy efficient home built through EnviRenew. These units are helping revive New Orleans communities, and they’re also designed to withstand strong weather.
The initiative really is amazing. They’ve awarded $10 million in grants to help rebuild 5 New Orleans neighborhoods. They’re constructing affordable, green homes for those in need, improving quality of life and breaking down the high cost barriers that prevent most of these people from being able to return and rebuild. They’re also attracting teachers and first responders to the neighborhoods to make them even stronger. The whole approach is making a positive difference and has even gained expert support.
The interior of an EnviRenew home.
Even 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, The Salvation Army remains committed to help New Orleans progress from a “recovering” city to a “resilient” city. This week you can even have an opportunity to be a part of this!
This Thursday, August 26, The Salvation Army will host a co-sponsored event with FedEx called “The Resiliency Summit.” New Orleans leaders along with national and local experts will celebrate the progress made over the past 5 years and discuss what it will take to create a vibrant and sustainable future for New Orleans communities. This event is free and open to the public, but you have to sign up beforehand! Register here.
Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages for updates on this exciting event. For more information on Envirenew, visit their website at www.envirenew.org.
Friday, August 20, 2010
August 29 marks the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Be sure to tune in to CNN this Saturday and Sunday night (August 21 and 22) at 8pm ET for ‘New Orleans Rising,’ a Soledad O’Brien documentary which chronicles the rebuilding efforts of the New Orleans neighborhood Pontchartrain Park.
The special will include a look at how The Salvation Army’s assistance helped this community recover.
You won’t want to miss it!
In addition, we’ll also be releasing videos and information every day next week regarding The Salvation Army’s efforts and New Orleans’ progress, so check back regularly at our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Yesterday we posted an updated bulletin regarding The Salvation Army’s ongoing relief work in Pakistan in response to the area’s devastating floods.
Today we are sharing the firsthand account of Major Dennis Gensler of The Salvation Army Pakistan Territory regarding his efforts in the recovering communities. Some of his narrative expands on the events described in yesterday’s bulletin, and much of the narrative provides additional detail exclusive to Major Gensler’s own experience. We hope it will provide you with a more personal view of The Salvation Army’s relief efforts and the plight of flood survivors.
“We left Territorial Headquarters Saturday 14 August at 4:30 am for the four hour trip to Islamabad to pick up other members of the Disaster team before going the remaining two hours to Charsadda. We were in two vehicles as the plan was to leave the four-wheel drive truck with the Islamabad team for their future visits to the flood areas.
We were grateful for the good organization that Captain Asif in Peshawar had arranged. Each family that was to be helped had a paper with their name and identification number on it and they were numbered from 1 to 100. After showing their identification card and giving their thumb print they were given a canvas bag with cooking utensils, pots, buckets, plates, cups, and kettles. They also received a foam mattress, a quilt and a large pillow. Everyone was very grateful for these very useful items. We did this in three places for a total of 300 families being assisted and it all ran very smoothly. We were able to have prayer at each location. We were joined by a few of the Bishops of other denominations and even a Muslim leader came and shared a few words at one of them. We also had the MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) for the Peshawar area Prince Javed participate in one of the distributions. We are expecting to help at least 3,000 families in this area alone.
After a long day of passing out relief goods we went into Peshawar to spend the night at a guest house. Peshawar was not at all what I expected. It’s really a very large and modern place.
On Sunday morning we did some additional assessments at some of the areas affected by the flood waters. We visited some families whose small mud homes were missing walls and parts of the roof. One home had a large hole in a small bedroom where a woman was in mud up to her neck and had to be pulled out by a few men. They were already working on rebuilding some of the mud walls and in some cases they will use some bricks. It’s not that much stronger, since they don’t use cement with the bricks – only mud. One little boy in this area was holding a 9 mm pistol which he seemed to keep at his side, somewhat hidden. I wasn’t sure if it was real or a toy, but being an American in Peshawar I felt my heart race a bit. I called him and some other boys near to me for a picture. It’s hard to imagine the affect that all of this is going to have on the children. My heart was aching for each of them.
The really disturbing place that we visited was a village called Azhakhel, which as it turns out was an Afghan Refugee Camp. As I looked at the map it appears this place is right at the bend in the river. Another village just to the west is called Pabbi and they were hit just as hard. As far as we could see in either direction was total destruction. Villagers told us that there were around 15,000 families in these places, but we couldn’t verify that.
The work of recovery and rebuilding here in Pakistan will take years. They were already so far behind, but this will just send them back even further. I wish I could rely on the generous gifts from around the world to give what is necessary, but considering how Pakistan has become alienated from so many I don’t see that happening. I wish more people could see the Pakistan that I have come to see in the last six months. I’m certain they would give more.”
If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan, you can donate by clicking here.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Salvation Army in Pakistan continued its initial response to the floods that have are now thought to have affected 20 million people by distributing bedding and cooking utensil packs to 300 families in Charsada. An assessment team visited Charsada a week earlier and discovered that the floods had devastated the town, wrecking homes and businesses.
The distribution team included Lieut-Colonel Yousaf Ghulam (Chief Secretary of the Salvation Army’s Pakistan Territory) and Lieut-Colonel Rebecca Yousaf (Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries).
The first distribution, to 100 families, took place at Charsada Bible Church. Lieut-Colonel Ghulam spoke to community members, offering sympathy.
The Bishop of Peshawar arrived during the distribution and thanked The Salvation Army for its work. Members of the local media were also present and asked many questions about The Salvation Army.
The next distribution was in a hujra (an annex to a main building) in Charsada for two hundred Muslim families. There was a large crowd of people already gathered when the team arrived but the proceedings went smoothly. The chief secretary gave a short message for the community and the bishop offered words of comfort. Local Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Mr Javed Prince added a few words of sympathy for the community.
One of the recipients in Charsada was Noor Ali, a student. He told the Salvation Army team that his family fled their home when the waters began to rise. When they returned home the house was full of water.
He said: ‘We are determined to face this big challenge. We will do hard work to reconstruct our houses. At the moment we are having problems but we are brave and we can fight.’
Imran Azm, a policeman who works in Peshawar, collected supplies for his parents. He told team members that he is determined to provide for his family.
Both Noor and Imran expressed their gratitude for what they described as a ‘token of love’ given by The Salvation Army.
The next day, the team visited Academy Town Corps (Salvation Army church) to meet affected families. Assessment visits were also made to Nowshera, Pabi, Jahangia and Aza khail, all communities near the River Kabul.
In Aza khail the team saw people in desperate need. The community of around 15,000 people was near to the river and its houses were washed away. The people who remain explained that many bodies have yet to be found because they were swept away by the flood or buried under rubble.
The community members asked for tents to provide shelter. The Salvation Army is putting together funds so it can look to buy a large number of tents that will begin to address some of the people’s most urgent needs.