Katrina Aftermath Highlights Community Engagement
1 September 2010 at 12:19 pm
On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the US, the Not for Profit research Institute of Southern Studies has released a new report which looks at what has changed and what hasn't changed, since the deadly storm took over 1,800 lives and devastated the Gulf Coast including a blossoming of community engagement.
|Volunteers with the Second Harvest Food Bank provide support in the wake of hurricane Katrina (Flickr photo USDAgov via Creative Commons)|
The report called Learning from Katrina: Lessons from Five years of Recovery and Renewal in the Gulf Coast, finds that many of the problems exposed in the botched federal response to the storm, from breakdowns in disaster planning to a misguided and mismanaged recovery, have yet to be addressed in Washington.
What's more, the report says these key flaws in federal policy will stall Gulf Coast rebuilding and put lives at risk in future disasters unless the President and Congress take action soon.
Among the critical issues addressed in the study:
- Poor disaster planning and response put thousands of Gulf residents in harm's way before, during and after Katrina.
- Waste, fraud and abuse by private contractors hurt Katrina relief and recovery efforts and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
- While most Gulf communities have turned the corner, the recovery remains fragile and uneven. Problems with affordable housing, schools and health care access are still big obstacles, and have been exacerbated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and the BP oil disaster.
But the report also finds a bright spot from the last five years: a blossoming of community action, local leadership and civic engagement.
- Local leaders and advocates galvanized people, neighborhoods and communities across the Gulf Coast, providing a voice and vehicle for local residents to participate in shaping how their communities would recover and rebuild.
- Community leaders heightened accountability and the responsiveness of elected officials, government agencies and other decision-makers to the needs of Gulf residents, promoting recovery policies that were more inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable.
- Community leaders mobilized national support for Gulf Coast renewal, reminding the country of its obligation to Gulf rebuilding and channeling volunteers and resources to where they were most needed for long-term recovery.
The full report can be downloaded at http://southernstudies.org/pdf/ISS-Katrina-5-Year-Report.pdf