|UMCOR-funded station leads Slidell Katrina recovery|
Dale Kimball visits with Leona Cousins in July 2006
to assess the progress of repairs to her Slidell, La., home following
Hurricane Katrina. UMNS file photos by Mike DuBose.
By Susan Meister*
Oct. 2, 2007 | SLIDELL, La. (UMNS)
In an area that suffered extensive wind and water damage two years ago
from Hurricane Katrina, long-term rebuilding efforts are being led by
Northshore Disaster Recovery Inc.
Youth from Tigard (Ore.) United Methodist Church install siding at the home of
Regina Batiste in Slidell as part of Project Noah, sponsored by First United
Methodist Church of Baton Rouge, La.
Northshore is one of the stations of the Louisiana United Methodist
Disaster Recovery Ministry, funded by the United Methodist Committee on
Relief. The staff provides case management and construction support for
households in St. Tammany and Washington parishes and serves as the
long-term recovery organization for St. Tammany Parish.
Nearly 90 organizations are part of the station, including 40
faith-based organizations, 27 civic organizations and various government
liaison representatives. Organizations contribute financial resources,
volunteers, housing, construction materials and warehousing.
Northshore director Dale Kimball recently returned from a
volunteer-recruiting trip to six states. He received commitments from 28
teams in addition to the three long-term volunteer groups who re-signed
and committed to send volunteers each week for the next calendar year.
"Volunteers are our most important resource," Kimball said. "We must continue recruiting for the long term."
More than rebuilding homes
Northshore Disaster Recovery is about more than rebuilding homes. "We want to rebuild the whole community," said Kimball.
A new partnership with Save the Children has placed mobile homes at
two FEMA trailer parks in St. Tammany Parish that will function as
community centers, with after-school programs, tutoring by high school
students, crisis counseling and an array of other services. The Mt.
Olive Soup Kitchen also was rebuilt largely with labor arranged through
Northside, according to Kimball.
The station "has been the catalyst to bring the resources of our
community together," said Shirleen Carter, executive director of the
United Way serving St. Tammany Parish, which is a Northshore member.
"After a few months (following Katrina), it was evident that there
must be an organized structure in place to bring all the resources and
organizations together to meet the demands of the long haul," Carter
added. "It takes everyone to contribute and at the end of the day the
results have been enormous — over 400 homes rebuilt and over 18,000
volunteers from around the world."
Northshore’s work is consistent with UMCOR’s long-term recovery
philosophy of working with communities to take ownership of their
healing long after a disaster strikes. The case management model
implemented by the station and others in the United Methodist Louisiana
Annual (regional) Conference is considered "best practice" in long-term
recovery and emphasizes family-by-family problem solving, with a caring
case manager accompanying each family.
The station’s mission focuses on residents who were uninsured or
under-insured and whose unmet needs are not covered by other relief
systems. The primary focus is on people living in FEMA trailers, the
elderly and those most at risk during hurricane season.
Seeking funding, volunteers
Those involved with the recovery effort in the Slidell area
acknowledge that the rebuilding will take years. Northshore Disaster
Recovery continues to actively seek funding, volunteers and resources to
sustain its work.
"After a few months (following Katrina), it
was evident that there must be an organized structure in place to bring
all the resources and organizations together to meet the demands of the
Project funding comes from private and faith-based donations and
grants. Grantor agencies include the American Red Cross, The Salvation
Army, United Way, AmeriCares, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
and Louisiana Family Recovery Corps. A recent grant from the Rotary Club
in Little Rock, Ark., will fund rebuilding in the nearby Lacombe area.
In early September, Northshore formalized an agreement with the First
Church of the Nazarene to house volunteer teams, and administrative
assistant Pat McQueen is thrilled with the arrangement. "They can house
up to 50 volunteers at a time, with a big gymnasium, showers and a
kitchen," she said.
The church joins a long list of other churches who are housing
volunteers, including Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where
Northshore’s offices are located. "This is truly an ecumenical effort,"
Carter believes Northshore Disaster Recovery can serve as a model for
other long-term responses. "I believe because of the magnitude of this
disaster, our hands-on experience will serve to benefit others across
the United States and the world," she said.
*Meister is the Gulf Coast communications consultant for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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Northshore Disaster Recovery Inc.
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