Of the $15 million that Episcopalians and Anglican worldwide have given to Episcopal Relief and Development since Hurricane Katrina swept across the Gulf Coast, $4.5 million will support proposals from the dioceses of Mississippi and Louisiana to meet the unmet needs of people most affected by the hurricane.
In November, the board of directors of ERD endorsed plans for Phases II and III of the four-phase, long-term Hurricane Katrina Response Plan.
“Episcopalians have once again responded with generous hearts, and we look forward to continuing our work with the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi as people journey back from the heartbreak and nightmare of a devastating hurricane season,” said Harry B. Bainbridge, bishop of Idaho diocese and chair of the ERD board.
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast region in late August, killing 1,300 people, displacing 1.5 million families and destroying more than 275,000 homes. Immediately after the disaster, the relief agency partnered with nine Episcopal dioceses, providing critical assistance such as food, shelter and clothing to dioceses in the Gulf Coast region and supporting hurricane evacuees that fled to dioceses in Tennessee, Kansas, west Louisiana, northern Alabama and Texas.
Over the next year, ERD’s partnership with the Diocese of Mississippi along with the Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response (part of Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi), and Louisiana diocese’s Office of Disaster Response will increase local efforts to collect and distribute relief assistance in areas directly affected by the disaster. The work will focus on psychosocial care; livelihood, health and housing recovery; case management; and other interventions.
In Mississippi, the Episcopal-Lutheran agency will offer food, shelter and medical assistance at seven relief and recovery staging areas. These distribution centers, operating out of churches and church schools, are open in key cities in the state.
The financial assistance will support cleanup crews and medical teams and provide training in psychosocial and case-management services. Partnerships with Duke University medical staff will bring critical medical services to devastated areas.
“We are deeply appreciative of the support and partnership of Episcopal Relief and Development and Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi in the rebuilding of the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Duncan Gray, bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi. During the next year, the Episcopal/Lutheran agency will focus on volunteer management with training, case management, education and children’s services, relocation assistance and housing and business renewal, targeting an estimated 34,000 beneficiaries.
New urban ministry center
In cooperation with the diocese’s Office of Disaster Response, ERD in Louisiana continues to help marginalized people who are disproportionately affected by the disaster. Currently, Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans serves as a distribution center for supplies. A water unit at the cathedral is one of the only sites providing clean, purified drinking water for the surrounding neighborhood. The cathedral is also a rest area for recovery workers, supplying them with food and water.
A grant from ERD will help the diocese buy the Glimmer Inn, a former bed-and-breakfast adjacent to the cathedral that will serve as an urban ministry center. It will offer a credit union, day care and job training, and will house the Office of Disaster Response. “After the September 11th tragedy [in New York], ERD worked with St. Paul’s Chapel, across from Ground Zero, offering healing and hope through an extraordinary volunteer relief effort. Similarly, the Glimmer Inn will serve as a beacon of hope to people affected by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina,” said ERD President Robert Radtke.
Concluded Bishop of Louisiana Charles Jenkins, “The world-wide Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church in the United States have partnered with the Diocese of Louisiana through Episcopal Relief and Development to provide ministries of mercy, compassion and hope for the people of New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.”
“The generosity of our brothers and sisters in Christ is deeply appreciated and will enable us to be Christ's heart and hands to many who have lost so much.”
More information about recovery efforts can be found at: http://www.er-d.org/