FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Warning Letter to Harvey and Irma Survivors From Katrina Survivor

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans | CC BY 2.0

Dear Fellow Hurricane Survivors:

Our hearts go out to you as you try to return to and fix your homes and lives.  Based on our experiences, here are a few things you should watch out for as you rebuild your communities.

One.  Rents are going to skyrocket and waves of evictions are likely.  With so many houses damaged and so many highly paid contractors coming into your region whose companies will pay anything to house them, landlords are going to start evicting people to make way for higher paying occupants.  Work with local organizations to enact a moratorium on evictions and a freeze on rents to allow working and low income people to come home and have a place to stay.

Two.  Rip off contractors and vulture businesses are probably already on the scene.  Don’t give money to anyone unless you know and trust them and do not pay for everything in advance!

Three.   Take pictures of everything that was damaged and hold onto all receipts for all your disaster expenses.  Get a special binder and keep all your papers in it.  Sadly, the process of getting assistance is going to last for years for many people and you will need to prove what damage you.

Four.  Right after a disaster there is an outpouring of compassion, support and solidarity.  Take what you need for your community.  But realize the window of compassion and support shuts much quicker than it should.  Then people will start blaming the victims.

Five.  Insist on transparency, accountability and participation in all public and private funding sources for disaster relief.  The government is yours and ours.  We need them in times of disaster but they can also be the biggest obstacle to a just recovery.   Demand they tell the public what is going on and consult with all parts of our communities, not just the rich and well connected usual suspects.  Same problems arise when dealing with the private relief organizations from the biggest private disaster relief organization to many other smaller groups.

Six.  Insist on telling your own story.  Your truth is a jewel that shines brightest in your own hands.  If you are going to work with journalists or others make sure the real truth is told, not just the sensational or heart rending stories of poor, powerless victims.  You may have been victimized by the hurricane but you are a powerful survivor!

Seven.  Unless you are rich enough to try to go this alone, you have to join together with others to make your voice heard.  Many voices together are loud enough to force those in power to listen.  Groups of people are far more effective than individual voices.  Neighborhood organizations, church organizations, community organizations, join and work with others!

Eight.  Work in statewide coalitions.  Statewide coalitions are very important because many disaster relief decisions are made on the state level.  You have to be able to influence those decisions.

Nine.  Identify members of Congress who you can work with.  Many decisions are being made on the federal level.   You have to make sure your voice is heard.  After Katrina, the best voice for poor people in New Orleans was Congresswoman Maxine Waters from California!  Now well known nationally as Superwoman, she was terrific advocate for and with us.

Ten.  Prioritize the voices of women.  Men push to the front when the cameras are on and when the resources are being handed out.  But in the long run, it is usually the women who are the most reliable family anchors.

Eleven.  Don’t allow those in power to forget about the people whose voices are never heard.  People in nursing homes, people in hospitals, the elderly, the disabled, children, the working poor, renters, people of color, immigrants and prisoners.   There is no need to be a voice for the voiceless, because all these people have voices, they are just not listened to.  Help lift their voices and their stories up because the voices of business and industry and people with money and connections will do just fine.  It is our other sisters and brothers who are always pushed to the back of the line.  Stand with them as they struggle to reclaim their rightful place.

Twelve.  Realize that you have human rights to return to your community and to be made whole.  Protect your human rights and the human rights of others.

More articles by:

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail