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Katrina Aid Today doubles assistance to families

 Hien Nguyen and Bao H. Lee, translators and case workers for the Vietnamese service organization Boat People SOS, talk to shrimp fisherman Hung Van Lai at the dock in Biloxi, Miss. A UMNS Photo by Mike DuBose.









By Jennifer Burcham*

Nov. 17, 2006 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)

Case managers for Katrina Aid Today assisted nearly 28,800 families - roughly 75,000 people - by the end of October and continue to open about 1,000 new cases each week.

According to a recent fourth quarter report from Katrina Aid Today, affiliates working on long-term recovery with survivors of Hurricane Katrina virtually doubled the number of families helped since its last report in July.


 Warren Harrity

"Since issuing the report, our new total is 30,112 families. That's nearly 80,000 individuals," said Warren Harrity, executive director of Katrina Aid Today. "That means we have served more people than the entire population of the pre-Katrina Lake Charles, La." Lake Charles had 70,555 residents before the 2005 hurricanes.

Katrina Aid Today is funded through a $66 million grant to the United Methodist Committee on Relief and monitored by Federal Emergency Management Agency. The consortium consists of 25 agencies with years of disaster recovery case management experience serving either as national partners or as local service providers under the Katrina Aid Today umbrella.

Although it has been more than a year since Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast, the figures confirm that many people across the nation are desperate for aid. The consortium plans to assist about 70,000 more Katrina-affected families over the next 11 months.

Housing, job training, employment assistance and utility payments and supplies are the most pressing needs for these families, according to the report. Health concerns were also on the minds of Katrina survivors as they sought services from Katrina Aid Today partners.

Sharon Truly, 48, is a Katrina Aid Today client. Though a Louisiana native, she had never evacuated for a hurricane. When Hurricane Katrina came barreling through New Orleans, she thought it was just another storm and decided to ride it out at a motel with her husband, her son and her 21 exotic birds.


Wrecked homes and storm debris line the streets in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward more than six months after Hurricane
Katrina ripped through the area.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

"In one day, everything you have in your whole life is wiped out. That fast," Truly said, with a snap of her fingers, as she looked through photographs of the things she lost.

Truly, who suffers with seizures, migraine headaches, a chronic respiratory disease and ruptured disks in her back, is unable to work. She must have oxygen to sleep at night. Her oxygen concentrator was flooded and she also had trouble getting her prescriptions filled. She eventually relocated to Memphis, Tenn.

That's when she heard about the Memphis and Shelby County Community Services Agency, a member of Katrina Aid Today.

Truly's case manager helped her find an apartment and furnish it, and get her prescription medications refilled. The case manager also is helping her map out a plan for her recovery, and assisted her in applying for an educational grant.

Today, Truly is working toward her bachelor's degree online and plans to start a home-based business selling vitamins and nutritional shakes.

The consortium has more than 1,400 full-time and volunteer trained disaster recovery case managers working in 32 states. They help survivors define the things that are holding them back from rebuilding their lives and then assist them in mapping out an "action plan for recovery."

More information can be found at, the consortium's Web site.

*Burcham is a staff writer for Katrina Aid Today.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or .

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