Informing Redevelopment After Hurricane Katrina
colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sat Oct 1 12:56:35 CDT 2005
[ed: Mario requests more information.]
From: "Mario Cristaldo" <mcristaldo at mannadc.org>
Can we get a list of the Insurance companies refusing to pay for the
claims. That way we can run an effective campaign against them.
colist at comm-org.wisc.edu wrote:
> This is a COMM-ORG "colist" message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> [ed: Lisa is responding to Scott's story below.]
> From: "Lisa Ranghelli" <lisa at change.org>
> I am angered by Scott Reed's stories of families who paid for hurricane
> insurance and whose insurers are refusing to pay claims based on the
> rationale that floods were the cause. Are any of the major organizing
> networks or others challenging the insurance companies on this? I think
> there would be a lot of people willing to call their insurers and
> threaten to cancel policies if claims are not honored.
>> [ed: I am starting to see a number of messages about community
>> organizing approaches to rebuilding New Orleans, so I will start a
>> new thread here.]
>> From: sreed at piconetwork.org
>> Last week Mary managed to get through check points to see her home in
>> Ponchatrain Park, where she has lived for 65 years since
>> African-Americans first had a chance to own homes in New Orleans. She
>> fainted. The home, which had been the center of her extended family,
>> a place where children and grandchildren always came back for
>> holidays, had been submerged in water for more than a week. She was
>> able to salvage one thing, a photo of her grandchildren that for lack
>> of space she’d hung just below where the wall hit the ceiling. Mary
>> called her insurance agent who asked her how many feet below water
>> was the house. She replied that he ought to know since his company
>> wrote the policy. The agent told her that despite paying for
>> homeowners insurance and a hurricane rider for 65 years, she would
>> get nothing because the damage was due to flood not Katrina. Mary
>> says she wants to go home, not alone but with family, neighbors and
>> the people from her church who helped her survive so much and gave
>> her life meaning.
>> Last week PICO families and congregations in Louisiana put out a new
>> call for help. They asked leaders and organizers from across PICO
>> National Network to come to Baton Rouge to support a massive effort
>> to help now-scattered New Orleans families come together to have a
>> voice in rebuilding their city. New Orleans has long been at the
>> heart of PICO. Since the mid-1980’s clergy, community leaders and
>> organizers from New Orleans have deeply shaped the culture of our
>> network. In so many ways PICO is a product of what we have
>> collectively learned from New Orleans: the every day fluency with
>> power, race and politics; the African-American church tradition; the
>> unparalleled love of place and understanding of how important it is
>> to sustaining strong families.
>> Thirty volunteer leaders and organizers from California,
>> Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, New York and Colorado
>> began arriving in Louisiana on Wednesday. We came with the
>> understanding that with all the talk of creating a new New Orleans
>> and "reconfiguring the demographics of the city" rebuilding is not
>> just about jobs and homes but also a matter of creating hope,
>> reconnecting community and rescuing one of the greatest cultural
>> treasures in America, a vibrant African-American cultural center.
>> With another powerful hurricane striking the Gulf Coast, Louisiana
>> faces overwhelming needs and limited capacity to rebuild itself. As
>> we write this, water is once again pouring into the 9th Ward of New
>> Orleans; families displaced by Katrina are yet again on the road
>> searching for shelter. Before Katrina, Louisiana, one of the poorest
>> states in the nation, failed to meet the basic needs of many of its
>> citizens. Now hundreds of thousands of people are living in shelters,
>> still awaiting urgent health care, counseling and the basic help they
>> need to rebuild their lives.
>> As PICO leaders and staff have met with displaced families we have
>> heard over and over that the same gross failure to protect families
>> from Katrina continues to undermine relief efforts. Today at a church
>> shelter in Baton Rouge we met with families who described living in a
>> shelter without mental health services and health care for
>> traumatized victims. They told us of their anger at FEMA, Red Cross
>> and others for repeatedly failing to keep promises to provide
>> services and of failing to provide any answers of when temporary
>> housing would be available. These are families from a community
>> abandoned by the government before Katrina struck, left without the
>> ability to get out of the city, sent to a shelter that could not
>> protect, finally evacuated to place they could not chose and now
>> living in a shelter without any answers about what comes next.
>> Amid the fear and chaos of the past three weeks we have also been
>> awed by the commitment of families and congregations in Louisiana to
>> come together to rebuild the state and return home to New Orleans.
>> The ties that bind families to each other, to their faith communities
>> and to place are powerful in this region. In so many ways and from so
>> many people we have heard the common cry that despite everything
>> "we’re going home."
>> PICO organizers and leaders visited St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in
>> Baton Rouge to meet with 300 Vietnamese families displaced from New
>> Orleans. They told us that they wanted to return home to New Orleans,
>> and that under the leadership of their pastor they were actively
>> organizing to obtain materials and coordinate skilled craftsperson to
>> rebuild their church and homes. We heard stories of people moving
>> back to their water logged houses in order to not lose their jobs.
>> The message of these families, who originally came to America as
>> refugees, was that they want to go home to their jobs, churches and
>> community but need federal help.
>> When asked to raise their hands if they intended to return to New
>> Orleans, almost all those at St. Anthony’s and other shelters in
>> Baton Rouge raised their hands.
>> Many families who want to rebuild tell the same story we heard from
>> Mary of calling their insurance companies and being told that despite
>> paying for homeowners insurance and hurricane coverage over many
>> years they will not be compensated. Homeowners fear losing their
>> homes to foreclosure and renters are afraid of being evicted from
>> houses they lived in for 30 years. Although many families want to
>> remain close to New Orleans, FEMA is not even asking families where
>> they would like to live, but is instead moving forward with massive
>> concentration of trailers far from public transportation and job
>> The central lesson of the death and destruction in New Orleans is
>> that without power people perish. We know that these disasters are
>> man made; the Katrina autopsy will show a string of political
>> decisions that exposed those without money and influence to
>> catastrophic danger. So much of what we witnessed violated the
>> cornerstone of human society that every life has intrinsic value. As
>> PICO has responded to the aftermath of Katrina we have acted on the
>> understanding that justice is not just a matter of putting the right
>> policies in place or involving the community in planning. Doing right
>> by those who died and lost everything means insuring that families
>> have the power to define the agenda and control the outcome; it means
>> equipping people to reorganize themselves for power at a time when
>> everything that held together their families and communities has been
>> On September 12 PICO brought the voices of New Orleans and Louisiana
>> families and pastors to Washington, DC, holding a national press
>> conference and obtaining commitments from members of Congress that
>> displaced families would have a say in federal relief and recovery
>> On October 4 PICO LIFT is holding a statewide action meeting in Baton
>> Rouge to begin rebuilding Louisiana so that families can go home to
>> their communities. PICO LIFT leaders are calling on Congress and
>> local and state officials to work together with displaced families to
>> make sure that all families receive immediate relief that protects
>> their health and welfare. PICO LIFT is fighting for federal resources
>> and policies that insure families the right to return to New Orleans,
>> to project a vision for the future of their city and to receive the
>> jobs and economic opportunities that come from rebuilding the city.
>> PICO LIFT is talking with hundreds of displaced families to get their
>> input into a comprehensive plan for relief and recovery.
>> PICO federations from around the nation are traveling to Baton Rouge
>> to support Louisiana and take back the message that Congress should
>> do right by the Katrina families and not finance the rebuilding of
>> Louisiana and the Gulf Coast by cutting the safety net that so many
>> families depend on at times of need. Across PICO we are asking "what
>> are the levies that could break in our communities and who would be
>> left on the roof tops."
>> In the early days after Katrina struck PICO encouraged people to make
>> contributions to the Red Cross and others providing immediate rescue
>> and relief; we also created a hotline for congregations to send
>> resources to churches in Louisiana that are sheltering families. We
>> continue to encourage direct support for sheltering communities.
>> For those who want to support efforts by Louisiana families to
>> organize themselves to return home and have a voice in rebuilding the
>> city and state, we have created a Rebuild Louisiana Fund. You can
>> learn more or contribute to this fund by contacting John Baumann at
>> jbaumann at piconetwork.org (501) 655-2801, 171 Santa Rosa Avenue,
>> Oakland, CA 94610. You can also donate online at
>> http://www.piconetwork.org/supportpico.asp (select Louisiana
>> Interfaiths Together). All funds donated to the Rebuild Louisiana
>> Fund will be used to support work by Louisiana Interfaiths Together
>> to reach out to and organize families in the state to participate in
>> relief and recovery decisions.
>> PICO National Network has worked since 1972 to give families and
>> congregations a voice in decisions that affect their communities.
>> With one million families, one thousand faith communities working in
>> 150 cities and 18 states, PICO is one of the largest and most diverse
>> grassroots community efforts in the United States.
>> Louisiana Interfaiths Together (PICO LIFT) is a state wide umbrella
>> for six PICO federations: All Congregations Together-New Orleans,
>> Working Interfaith Network-Baton Rouge, Bayou Interfaith Shared
>> Community Org.-Houma Thibodaux, Congregations Organizing People for
>> Equity-Lafayette, Delta Interfaith Network-Lake Providence, Hope
>> Ministries-Point Coupee Parish.
>> Scott Reed, National Director of Organizing, PICO National Network
>> If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for PICO
>> National Network.
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