Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Sorry I was not able to post yesterday, lots of things are happening and I’m fairly busy.
So, the MA/NE Katrina relief group is hitting the ground running, and Greta’s family, whom I posted about yesterday, will be able to reach New England (and since I last wrote, more family members have hooked in with them, and also will be able to afford to drive up here as well because of the generous donations of my own readers and others). They are leaving Jefferson Parish today I believe, and making their way north. I can’t thank you all enough for what you’ve done so far. I’m simply stunned. But there’s so much more work to be done, so stay with me.
Our new group, now tentatively called ARKS New England (Aid and Relief for Katrina Survivors), has a new website where donations can be made directly to ARKS online. Our name is subject to changes - because we have emergency requests to attend to, we couldn’t spend the time to come to consensus on silly things like names and website domains. That can all be adjusted later, we figure.
The latest news is that the state of MA is on hold in bringing up the 2500 to Otis, because, they say, people don’t want to leave the area where their homes once were. I’m certain that many are worried about the motives of the government in relocation - will they eminent domain their homes and give them away? Will survivors be even allowed to return?
We’re doing a more human, person-to-person contact and I think this mass movement of thousands by the Red Cross, the states, and (*cough*) FEMA, while more efficient, is probably making survivors very nervous. ARKS coordinator Katrina has already made contacts with Louisiana churches and mosques that are overwhelmed with survivors and she says they are excited about our group, because they cannot forever support the many who are using their facilities as shelters, and more come all the time. From what I’m hearing, I don’t think we will have much trouble finding hundreds who will want to come to the northeast, personally. And as time goes on, and it sinks in that NO will not be habitable for a very long time, many will likely realize they can’t live in the Astrodome or convention centers for months or years, and we are preparing for that day as well.
You can still sign up for the email discussion list, but I warn you, it’s high volume right now as we settle in to a process. If you want to be an active member of ARKS I suggest you do sign up. If not, I will start making a list of “announcement” email addresses which will only get periodic reports, or you can check the website for our progress. That way, when we call on volunteers or donors or have needs, we can let you know immediately, but otherwise, you won’t be inundated. Just email me at lynne -at leftinlowell dots com.
Feeling like you need to do something concrete to help? I just got this desperate plea from a correspondent I’ve been in touch with these past few days. A woman named Greta, with three family members from NO already staying with her, and more in the Gulf area who NEED HELP RIGHT NOW. Apparently she can’t get the Red Cross to give her an answer or any action on getting money to her relatives still stuck in Louisiana, who are trying to get up to MA, so I am asking for help on her behalf.
Today I tried to contact the red cross, I have relatives that were able to get into Jefferson Parish for one day and then they have to leave by tomorrow night. They went back to see if they were able to retrieve any belongings. My Aunt did get hold of me via a cell phone she wanted me to research the red cross - she was told by neibors they got immediate relieve some cash dollars around 2-300 dollars, this would help for another hotel stay at a neiboring State until she drives here to New England. I called 8 different red cross numbers they were able to help take my donation but could not give any , or know any information regarding immediate relieve for homeless people driving around in cars. I don’t know how much your little group can help me - My family needs help now and my networking hours on my own do not seem to be enough for the cause.
You might have noticed a donation link for LeftinLowell.com on the right sidebar here. I haven’t called attention to it because I figured, anyone who wanted to donate money to me for running this blog would, in their own time. However, if you use that donation page to donate specifically to Greta and her family, I will see that it gets to her ASAP. Just put “money for Greta” in the “Leave a Note!” box under the Security Measure section on the Billing Information page. Give what you can, give generously. Her family does not have the money for a place to stay as they drive up here. I will ensure personally that they are delivered to her and her family.
Tonight I’m feeling like human beings are wonderful, generous, and very kind, all because I just spent a few hours in the company of almost 20 individuals whose sole desire is to do something to help Katrina survivors. Thanks to Mel King of the Tech Center at Tent City (an amazing place - very cool) for allowing us the space. It was very centrally located (OK, not for me, but then again I’m up in Lowell, so I don’t count. ).
There was a lot of brain power in the room, and for this week people have taken on various tasks - a lot of information gathering, particularly about what other local efforts (state, city, churches and orgs) are kicking around, so we can coordinate and compliment them with our own.
Next meeting is the same place (the Tech Center, get a map here), 359 Columbus Avenue Boston, MA, in the South End (and I am now educated on the difference between South End and South Boston, heh). The meeting starts at 3:30pm on Sunday, Sept 11. I think that’s very appropriate, somehow.
You can still get on the email list here, put in your info under the “Subscription” section.
At some point in the near future, we’ll be pulling info together and posting a page with whom to contact with requests for help, offers of housing or donations, and a list of our needs from the public.
We are meeting tomorrow in
South Boston SOUTH END (sorry, not a Boston native, I hope no on was confused) at 3pm to talk about long-term housing solutions for Katrina victims and bringing some of them to the northeast. A lot of people have mentioned to me over the last couple days that no one will want to come up here - it’s too far, people won’t want to leave the area where they’ve lived. I disagree. There’s at least - at least - 500,000 people left homeless. Probably more. Some will not be going back to their homes for months, if even then. New Orleans won’t even be drained, they estimate, for up to 80 days, and that’s not even close to what is needed to rebuild the city for habitation, as the city’s infrastructure is so damaged and the water spread toxins across the flooded areas and will need to be dealt with. Many were living in poverty to begin with, and so own nothing and have no home to be reimbursed for.
Houston, TX has so generously opened so many facilities. Clean and safe and dry they are, but severely crowded. Kids need to find schools, parents need to find work - cuz if you think FEMA’s going to have its act together soon, think again (please prove me wrong!) - and there’s no way Houston and other southern cities will be able to absorb so huge a population alone. Us states further out should take on some of that burden, so it is spread more evenly.
Our preliminary plan is to get donations enough to pay for buses to bring willing survivors, and find housing (offered beds and maybe even hotels and apts) for them up here (in the whole northeast). We plan to contact churches, businesses, and individuals across the state and even New England, and then to continue to support these people and their host families with a continuing stream of donations of food, goods, and money. We think that gathering people together to do this is much more efficient than all of us contributing alone - so if you hear of other groups trying to do something similar, put them in contact with us because I think we should all coordinate on some level.
We do plan on making sure we are a help and not a hindrance, so we’ll be talking to the Red Cross and FEMA and other groups to be sure we are not in the way.
If you want to join us, there’s several ways to help: first, you can get on the mailing list I’ve set up. Click here and put your info into the section for subscription.
Second, if you can make the meeting tomorrow, it will be at the Technology Center at 359 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA (map here) at 3pm tomorrow, Sunday, Sept 4th. [Update: nearest T stop, Back Bay on the Orange line.]
Third, once we have details and are underway, we need as many contacts into businesses and communities we can get, as well as individual donations, to get this off the ground. I’m hoping we can also blogswarm this - I’m calling on my colleagues to help me get the word out.
We have the resources of a prosperous region and many smart people to bring to bear on this problem - let’s do it together.
I’m in contact with the UJP folks, and it looks like there’s more-than-idle talk of organizing a campaign to ask for more homes in the area offering space to refugees, and enough cash to rent a bus (or three, or more) and get people stranded homeless in the Gulf up to New England to live with those generous people while things settle (whether that’s rebuilding or relocation). Then of course ongoing fundraising to support these people once they are here.
Nothing logistical is decided yet, but we will be contacting churches, businesses, and other orgs and will need homes with space and beds available, and of course, money to make it happen. I will keep everyone informed. If you want to be part of logistics planning, or want to offer space, let me know!
Obviously, the closer you live to the hard-hit areas, the more useful, but people across the nation can now sign up to open their homes to refugees. Members of Greater Lowell for Peace and Justice are already signing up.
If you decide to go list your house in the website, and want financial help to feed and clothe them, I’m certain GLPJ and other groups like churches will be holding fundraisers for families staying in our area. Don’t allow a shaky financial situation stop you from offering a good extra bed. We will take care of things, one way or another, so be worry-free.
From Moveon’s email about the HurricaneHousing site:
This morning, we’ve launched an emergency national housing drive to connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a place to wait out the storm. You can post your offer of housing (a spare room, extra bed, even a decent couch) and search for available housing online at:
Housing is most urgently needed within reasonable driving distance (about 300 miles) of the affected areas in the Southeast, especially New Orleans.
But no matter where you live, your housing could still make a world of difference to a person or family in need, so please offer what you can.
The process is simple:
- You can sign up to become a host by posting a description of whatever housing you have available, along with contact information. You can change or remove your offer at any time.
- Hurricane victims, local and national relief organizations, friends and relatives can search the site for housing. We’ll do everything we can to get your offers where they are needed most. Many shelters actually already have Internet access, but folks without ‘net access can still make use of the site through case workers and family members.
- Hurricane victims or relief agencies will contact hosts and together decide if it’s a good match and make the necessary travel arrangements. The host’s address is not released until a particular match is agreed on.
I’ve already linked a few times to places you can donate to help with disaster relief, I know. But I’ve now added a permanent link to the sidebar over there –> that goes to a coordinating site for donations via liberal blogs - the donations go to the Red Cross for hurricane victims. We’ve raised amazing amounts of money for progressive candidates - now it’s time to put that power into helping the victims of Katrina. [Hat tip to Shai at the Cambridge DL.]
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