This is part of an email sent out by AmeriCorps NCCC promoting another month of service in Louisiana. I would love to go, but they want people there August 15-September 15. That's one of the busiest times of the year for a teacher, and I can't afford it either. I do really want to go back and keep working on the rebuilding effort. I'm thinking that either the December break or the February break would be excellent (and mild-weathered) times to go.
I really encourage ALL people to think about what they can do to contribute, not just to the Katrina rebuilding, but the community in general. Yes, you can donate money to a cause, but it's so impersonal. Real service gives you such a high! You learn about new places, you meet new people, sometimes you learn new skills, and you have fun.
Habitat for Humanity is all over the country; go look up your local affiliate.
In big cities, there are big events like fundraising walks, spread throughout the year.
Late October is National Youth Service Day, and local chapters of Hands On (connecting organizations that need volunteers with people who want to volunteer--for free!) like New York Cares hold big volunteering days and afterparties around then. (New York Cares Day is October 21 this year; mark your calendars!)
But you can find a place and time to volunteer with them, any time of year, any time of day, in lots of areas.
There are lots of churches, shelters, and nonprofits that need help, or people who need a kind word. Please do all that you can to make the world a better place.
Anyway, enough preaching from me, here's some information about St. Bernard Parish, the focus of the upcoming service month.
"On August 29, 2005, Saint Bernard Parish was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The storm damage, which affected virtually every structure in the parish, was believed to come both from direct effects of the storm and from a massive storm surge funneled in by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ("MRGO").
"The eye of Katrina passed over the eastern, less populated portion of the parish, but in doing so pushed a 25-foot storm surge into Lake Borgne and into the MRGO. This surge destroyed the parish levees which were 14-17 feet high. Almost the entire parish was flooded, most areas getting between 5 and 12 feet of standing water. There may have been as many as two homes untouched by flood waters. Independent engineering analysis of the storm surge suggests that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet transmitted the storm surge from the Lake Borgne area directly into the center of the heaviest populated areas of the parish. Unlike most of the flooding in New Orleans, the water rose suddenly and violently, during a period that witnesses have reported as no more than fifteen minutes. In many areas, houses were smashed or knocked off their foundations by storm surge higher than their roofs.
"For more than two months after the storm, much of the parish remained without proper services, including electricity, water, and sewage. Federal and state relief was notably lacking in the parish. Parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez, declared all of the parish's homes unlivable. Many areas of the parish may have to be completely demolished, although there is much uncertainty about whether or not this will happen. Several residents have begun to repair houses which they believe are more cheaply repaired than bulldozed and rebuilt. There is much fear about the lack of funding because of the complete loss of the parish's tax base. St. Bernard's levee system, however, is being restored and is expected to be at pre-Katrina levels by June 2006. It should be noted that this is the first time in FEMA history that an entire parish or county experienced the severity of damage that St. Bernard received from Katrina.
"Many St. Bernard residents feel their plight is little known and generally ignored by the nation as a whole, having been overshadowed by the proportionately less severe but more visible damage in New Orleans."