The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Four Years After Katrina


This Friday marks four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

Executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, Kromm said today: "New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still waiting for Washington to show leadership in the Katrina recovery. Four years after the storm, one out of three New Orleans addresses are still unoccupied -- yet the Congressional district that includes New Orleans (LA-2) received the LEAST federal stimulus dollars of any district in the country. President Obama campaigned on his commitment to rebuild the Gulf Coast, but on issues from housing to health care, jobs and coastal protection, communities are waiting to see those promises turn into action."

This week, the Institute for Southern Studies, which has published eight in-depth reports on the Gulf Coast recovery, will be releasing the findings of a survey of over 50 Gulf Coast groups, grading the Obama administration's record on Katrina rebuilding issues.

Hill is an attorney and executive director of the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights. He said today: "On-the-job protections and safety are at an all-time low as employers are using the recovery as an excuse to ignore labor laws."

Co-director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Harden is an attorney and co-facilitator of the Greater New Orleans Organizers Roundtable, a network of more than 60 organizations and resident groups to strengthen resident power and collaboration post-Katrina. The group, frustrated with the lack of aid infrastructure and poor treatment received from many public and charitable aid agencies, is organizing an alternative national evacuation network.

She said today: "We are reaching out to people of good faith in the top cities where New Orleanians tend to evacuate in order to develop a national People's Evacuation Plan. Often, our communities must face discrimination and even criminalization by aid agencies as they are facing the prospect of evacuation and displacement. This plan is about building a supportive, grassroots network for emergency aid that incorporates the basic principles of human rights."

Bonner is the executive director of Moving Forward Gulf Coast and leads a census coalition of residents and those still displaced by the hurricane in an effort to ensure that residents on the path to return will be counted where they are rebuilding.

Bonner said today: "Right now, thousands of residents are still rebuilding against the odds. They are navigating tremendous red tape and almost negligible recovery assistance to get their homes rebuilt. Now, the government is saying even if you are actively rebuilding, you have to be counted where you are staying, not where you live. Unless the census makes special provisions for those displaced by Katrina, the government will be denying the region millions in funding. Given our already stressed public infrastructure, it will be like Katrina hitting us all over again."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.