Saturday, September 03, 2005

I have some super friends by the way...

I got an e-mail from a long time friend who lives in Kansas. She, like the rest of us, was upset by the images on the news about Katrina survivors and the incredible injustice of lack of government response to help. This was her idea, and isn't it nice to have connections in high places! Please follow this link for some ideas on how you can help and read about what a smart and loving woman my friend Sarah is!

Lawrence to adopt Family of hurricane victims

I'm going to contact our local council to see what I can do along these lines. I don't know if any of our local banks would be willing to part with their cash but won't hurt to ask.

I just wonder...why wasn't there plan in place to deal with this sort of disaster? It's not like we aren't hit with hurricanes every year. And what about tornadoes and drought, volcanic eruptions and C'mon! The USA is a hotbed of natural disasters waiting to happen. I mean there must some Cold War documents that tell the military how to properly evacuate a city after a bomb was dropped or something.

Right...I'm off to get a sash and collection tin.

Update: Our Friend Ken asked:

Sarah, I think I need to know more about it first, in case I am asked. What exactly does Lawrence mean by "adopting" a family? Are they providing rent-free housing? If so, what property owner is providing it; how were such accommodations obtained? Or are the cash donations going to pay rent for them? Is the city going to attempt to find temporary employment for the working adult(s) of the family? Is it also providing other needs such as local transportation, use of a car, free use of telephones to help deal with reconstruction and resettlement issues back home. Suppose my town says that they are already creating shelters for displaced families (and they are), and asks me how this would differ. What do I tell them? Does Lawrence also have any group shelters for others? If some are housed in group shelters such as a community recreation center or a church fellowship hall, whereas one or more other families are "adopted" by the city and provided a rent-free single-family dwelling, it seems to me this creates a sort of class structure between refugees -- we treat some refugees better than others. Can you think of any way one would respond to that? (Ken later discovered: "I read today that we have 40 to 45 families from New Orleans being housed here in town. They're being provided with local jobs and their kids are being registered for school.")

Krista asked:

Wow...Sarah you really are a blue bird of happiness. I've been watching footage all week and I just want to help. I haven't decided exactly how but I know that being a diabetic and there being diabetics down there who haven't any insulin for about a week makes me want to contribute to that effort. Also those people down in the makeshift hospital in the New Orleans airport sick and dying with out proper medical care. You are such an inspiration. Thank you for showing me that regular people can and do make a difference.

Sarah's Reply:

Ken, I am so happy that your city is taking in so many families! My solution was more for smallish towns that haven't enough resources for more than a few families (a small town in Minnesota wants to do this too! But they are VERY small and may only be able to support one!). Let me see, though, if I can address some of your earlier questions. Housing -- yes, free housing for a little while (in a suite hotel). This offer came from the Marriott; I am not sure how the mayor convinced them, but I don't think it was very difficult. Some landlords have been approached by the mayor and have responded with free or greatly reduced rents for a few months or longer. Chamber of Commerce is assisting adults with getting jobs in the community. Cash donations will help in this initial stage. Other merchants and individuals are providing donations-in-kind, including food, transportation, furniture, etc. Shelters for families are a wonderful thing and very very necessary right now, especially in states so close to the action. Possibly some families are not going to want (or need) to go anywhere else from a shelter -- they will want to stay there until they can rebuild their homes. However, others who were poor to begin with and who have lost everything are no more able to rebuild there than anywhere else. Some of these want to relocate on a more permanent basis. Others want some time to decide, and living in a home rather than a shelter for a few months appeals to them. Lastly, I can imagine a situation in which one member of the family will stay down there and work on the rebuilding, while the rest (children, at least) would stay in a more settled spot, work, attend school, etc. It seems the folks at the local newspaper (where Dan works) were thrilled by the idea. (Dan was stopped several times Friday by some higher-ups there.) Since they also own the cable TV/internet and one of our phone companies, I think they'd certainly be willing to help with a donation of those services. Anyway, hope this helps -- please let me know if you have any more questions!

So, obviously we in the UK or elsewhere in the world can't "adopt a family" in the same sense, but we can donate towards supporting the housing, and medical for those who are adopted. People can ask the Govt over and over everyday that passes when will help come and why isn't it there yet, and still it's another day without shelter, food and everything else. Sarah says they need a downhome, bluegrass solution where everyone lends a hand to help where they can. I'm going to send a letter to the local newspapers forwarding this on to see if they'll assist too. *shrug* what can it hurt?

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