Thursday, September 06, 2007

Episcopal Katrina News

Over the last month or so, while I’ve been lazing about blogging, the Episcopal Church has been kicking into high gear. Here are a number of recent articles about Katrina recovery from Episcopal Life Online and the Episcopal News Service. I’ll give the link and the lede for each to help keep this post concise. Articles are in chronological order; the last one listed is from today. Most of the stories have compelling pictures if you visit their links. It’s somewhat fitting, but also very sad, that a national church newsletter is paying more attention to the crucial social justice issue of Katrina recovery than the mainstream press.

Hallelujah Housing: In Mississippi, ERD joins affordable housing partnership
July 26, 2007

Expanding its partnership with the Diocese of Mississippi, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is supporting "Hallelujah Housing," a program building affordable homes along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and ERD have entered a joint partnership with Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community Credit Union and the Unity Homes Project to construct homes for Gulf Coast families who lost their property in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Along the Gulf Coast, 65,000 homes were destroyed by the storm. Presently, 30,000 families are still living in FEMA trailers. Affordable housing will be constructed in the coastal Mississippi counties of Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson.

(A Hallelujah Housing success story appeared on August 30.

Province IV Youth Event makes its mission in Katrina rebuilding
July 30, 2007

Twenty-three months since the wind and waters of Katrina ravaged the Mississippi and Louisiana coastlines, little has changed on the beachfront of Bay St. Louis. Christ Episcopal Church is one of the few structures on the beach to show signs of life. From July 17-22, it swelled with energy as the Provincial Youth Event (PYE) from
Province IV moved in and literally dug into their mission.

Each day, 15 work teams of about 10 youths and at least one adult endured 90-degree heat and 80-percent humidity as they traveled around Bay St. Louis to work on rebuilding projects coordinated by Mission on the Bay, the youth work camp on the grounds of Christ Church, sponsored by the Diocese of Mississippi, Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi and Episcopal Relief and Development.

Video: Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative in New Orleans
August 24, 2007

The mission of Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative is to provide quality affordable housing in pre-existing neighborhoods throughout New Orleans while encouraging community and faith-based collaboration.

Brad Powers, executive director of Jericho Road, speaks about the Episcopal
Diocese of Louisiana's housing initiative that transforms under-used land, rebuilds neighborhoods and empowers communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Two years after Katrina, Mississippi struggles to rebuild
August 27, 2007

Driving along what is left of the beachfront boulevard in Bay St. Louis, one sees a lot of green. Nature has reinvented itself; flora and fauna are prolific along the Mississippi coastline. A few people dot the beaches in between ruined piers. Houses, however, are missing. Miles of vacant lots dotted with concrete pipe sections and new septic tanks bear silent witness to the ever-present loss.

Heading west from New Orleans, across the water's edge to Mobile, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi has coped with its own losses and has struggled to mitigate the spiritual, emotional and physical deficits of the coast area clergy and residents pummeled by Katrina.

"Residents are still numb from the catastrophic forces which turned their world upside down on August 29, 2005," said the Rev. Canon David Johnson, Canon to the Ordinary in Mississippi. "The work to recover will be at least a decade in being accomplished. For many, the magnitude and long-term impact is just now setting in."

Hands-on rebuilding projects set for House of Bishops' meeting in New Orleans
August 29, 2007

When the House of Bishops meets September 20-25 in New Orleans, members and spouses will have hands-on opportunities to help rebuilding efforts in hurricane-affected areas.

While some will join weekend work projects of "mucking and gutting" damaged structures, others will join in prayer and pastoral visits with congregations and individuals.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, visiting at the bishops' invitation, will participate in a September 20 evening interfaith gathering to rededicate the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

ERD commemorates the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
August 29, 2007

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a powerful Category 4 storm, slammed onto the Gulf Coast forever changing the lives of people in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) recognizes the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2007.

ERD and its partners have been active in the Gulf Coast through three-to-five-year long-term recovery programs that focus on rebuilding homes and small businesses, providing case management services, creating a framework for medical and volunteer services, and offering psychosocial counseling for people affected by Katrina. To learn more about ERD's programs in the Gulf Coast, visit the Katrina Recovery Center here.

Ecumenical Work Week shows Churches faithful to Gulf Coast rebuilding
August 31, 2007

When the storm winds of Hurricane Katrina subsided two years ago, a national nightmare unfolded on television screens and other media outlets throughout the nation and around the world. More than 1,800 people lost their lives as a result of the storm and flooding and the city of New Orleans suffered multiple disasters, among them one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history.

Two years later, the Rev. Patrick Keen, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in New Orleans, said, "If it had not been for the Church, we would be in even worse shape than we are now." He was addressing 50 volunteers from 14 Christian churches taking part in Ecumenical Work Week August 19-25 sponsored by the National Council of Churches (NCC) USA's Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

In addition to the work of volunteers who helped to repair and rebuild six houses, visiting clergy spent two days learning about the environmental impact of the post-Katrina flooding.

LOUISIANA: Bishop blogs to Bush
September 4, 2007
On the day President George Bush visited New Orleans, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana Bishop Charles Jenkins told the president via a web blog entry that the people of the city "will not be satisfied by tokenism when our survival is at stake."

Jenkins' August 30 entry on The Bishop's Blog said that people of faith "stand together in our fight to recognize and cherish the dignity and worth of every citizen of this city, and we believe how the citizens of this city are treated says who we really are as a nation."

Bush visited New Orleans August 29 and 30 as part of the commemorations of the second anniversary of the days when Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath decimated parts of the Gulf Coast. Bush and his administration's handling of the hurricane response have drawn criticism from many quarters.

Recovering from Katrina: Returning as a volunteer, former student experiences new 'pride of Mississippi'

September 6, 2007

Mississippi holds fond memories for me. It is where I ate my first crawfish and fell in love with the sweet, heady scent of magnolias in bloom. As a University of Southern Mississippi "Pride of Mississippi" band member, I learned that "band camp" is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. At my alma mater, I watched a young quarterback named Brett
Favre throw the football harder and farther than seemed humanly possible. It was while I was at Southern Miss that I became an official "Parrot Head," one of the fans of another alum, Jimmy Buffett. In Mississippi, I formed friendships with warm, loyal people that would sustain and nurture me for decades.

The Mississippi of my youth is vastly different now. The Gulf Coast where I spent weekends avoiding college term papers, piles of dirty laundry, bad dorm food and the Graduate Record Examinations was ripped apart by Hurricane Katrina.

One is immediately struck by the absence of things -- the large empty spaces where buildings once stood and the concrete slabs with trailers parked on them. The beach roads, once cluttered with gas stations and fast-food restaurants, are devoid of the usual glaring advertisements for cheap eats, gas, motels and souvenirs. Even now, piles of debris remain.

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