December 02, 2008
In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita blew through Slidell, Louisiana, leaving 15,000 homes over 50% damaged. At the time, Slidell’s main income sources were fishing, oil, tourism and the military. The area had never flooded before therefore no one had flood insurance. The formerly 1.1 million person community now has only about 225,000 inhabitants.
Back then there were 4 high schools, two of which were destroyed. When the remaining schools reopened, there were no sports, no activities. The suicide rate among 40 -55 year old men, most of who had lost everything they had worked for their whole lives, rose to an alarming 36%.
It costs about $25,000 to rebuild a home. About 800 homes have been rebuilt by volunteers. Habitat for Humanity has built 92 new homes. 90% of the rebuilding is performed by faith based recovery groups. The other 10% has been Rotary, Military, Colleges, and other volunteerism groups such as Habitat for Humanity.
No skills? Of the 37,000 volunteers that have funneled through North Shore Disater Recovery Center, there has never been an “unskilled” volunteer! If you have ever held a hammer, you are considered "skilled." If you've never held a hammer, you are still needed. Cooks, drivers, and supply runners are all necessary and important parts of a reconstruction team.
NSDR averages about 150 volunteers per week during the school year, and 250 other weeks. Houses are rebuilt with no government involvement, no red tape, and no exclusions. NSDR currently continues to receive an average of 17 applications a week for assistance with lodging, food, prescriptions, eye glasses. They have facilitated 4.5 million dollars in recovery efforts, through donated funds and material goods.
Injury rate average is 10/1 – guys over girls. And no, there isn't a 10/1 ratio of guys to girls volunteering. The # 1 injury is dehydration. Humidity is the problem. Volunteers are encouraged to drink at least 6 bottles of water per day, even if the weather is cool and breezy. Construction volunteers are encouraged to ingest at least 8 bottles of water per day.
We had an awesome weather week. Orientation personnel joked that this was the one perfect week you live in Louisiana for. But the next message wasn’t a joke.
Slidell is considered to be about 90% recovered, only 5% better than last October. There are 5 North Shore Disaster Recovery Centers operating fulltime. It had been predicted that recovery would be nearly complete by the end of 2008, however, Gustav and Ike had other plans for the area. Now, the prediction is another 18 months. But recovery will never be complete, and the projects won’t end until the volunteers quit coming.
“There are about 100 volunteers in this orientation session, and we thank you for showing up with your servant’s hearts,” we were told. “This week, as far as disaster recovery personnel go, folks… you’re IT.”
Posted by jaselin at December 2, 2008 08:14 PM