The Dallas Morning News reports that a high profile interfaith group is calling for a stepped up federal effort to help the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast. The group writes:
We have learned that acts of faith and mercy alone, no matter how profound, cannot provide everything needed for a sustainable recovery. Gulf Coast families deserve a federal government that recognizes their needs by rebuilding their communities, supporting basic human rights of all communities, addressing poverty and displacement, and confronting coastal erosion. The government must empower local communities to take the lead in rebuilding their neighborhoods, renewing their lives, and restoring God’s creation. We believe it is a moral obligation for the federal government to fulfill its promises for Gulf Coast recovery: empowering residents to return and participate in equitably rebuilding their communities.
Now we are joining community and faith leaders across Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and calling on people of faith to form a new partnership for a renewed and just federal Gulf Coast recovery policy to put all Gulf Coast communities, regardless of race, ethnicity or income, on the path to an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable recovery.
We ask national leaders of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, as they discuss the future of our nation, to honor the third anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the survivors of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav by pledging to fulfill these obligations in the next Administration and Congress, including:
• Passing policy based on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act for a resident-led partnership to rebuild vital public infrastructure, restore the environment, and create good jobs and economic opportunities for residents and returning displaced families to help create stronger, safer, and more equitable communities;
• Increasing funding for federal, state, and local partnerships in the Gulf Coast to create more affordable housing and promote home-ownership for returning families, workers, and residents moving out of unsafe FEMA trailers; and
• Supporting federal funding to restore the coastal wetlands and barrier islands that form the Gulf Coast’s natural barriers to flooding and to build improved levee systems to create a comprehensive flood control system which could protect all Gulf Coast communities from another Category 5 storm.
Read the letter and which groups signed on to it here.
According to Episcopal Life Online:
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other Episcopalians are among 105 ecumenical and interfaith leaders who have signed on to a statement declaring that “the slow pace of recovery and the new needs caused by Ike and Gustav’s destruction have created a moral crisis along the Gulf Coast that demands a powerful response from people of faith.”
In other stories:
The American Red Cross, which is plunging into debt to provide relief after back-to-back Gulf Coast hurricanes, said yesterday that it has asked Congress for $150 million in emergency funding to replenish its disaster relief reserves. Read here
From the Miami Herald:
Authorities said Sunday [volunteers] had rescued nearly 2,000 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike’s strike on the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Though crews planned to keep combing flooded streets Sunday night with boats and dump trucks, they were encouraged that time and time again, they knocked on doors and found life.
From Episcopal Relief and Development:
Episcopal Relief & Development is communicating with affected dioceses in Western Louisiana, Texas, West Texas and Arkansas and is providing critical assistance as the needs arise,” said Don Cimato of Episcopal Relief & Development. “We are working in coordination with voluntary organizations at state and national levels with the goal of preventing the duplication of services.
Read more here.