A Taste of New Orleans

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)

Ingredients:

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
Worcestershire sauce
Uncle Ben’s white rice

Instructions:

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.”

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Stories from the Gulf: Sheriff White’s Testimony

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

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Stories from the Gulf: Kathlene’s Testimony

Thursday, August 26, 2010

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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.

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Stories from The Gulf: The Pillaults’ Testimony

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.

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When the Winds Died Down

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.

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EnviRenew – Helping New Orleans Progress from ‘Recovery’ to ‘Resiliency’

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.

[EnviRenew Home]
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.

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Tune In This Weekend: CNN Special “New Orleans Rising”

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!

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