Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FEMA Strikes Again

As I travel this country, trying to raise both money for our rebuilding, and awareness of the continued struggle we endure, I am often asked about the government's response to Katrina. I try to stay out of that debate, focusing instead on the amazing work the church in America, and even globally, has done to respond.
However, the editorial below in our local paper, the Sun Herald, speaks to an incredibly poor decision by FEMA. It is my understanding that there are sufficient funds to continue Project Recovery, which has provided much, much needed mental health services since the storm. As I reported in my last post, PTSS is an ongoing and increasing problem. Pulling Project Recovery now is a severe blow to an area in desperate need for INCREASED mental health assistance.
The editorial is below, from the Sun Herald...


Posted on Tue, Apr. 24, 2007

Project Recovery deserves a reprieve

We wholeheartedly endorse the sentiments of Dr. Robert Titzler, medical director of Bethel Free Medical Clinic in Biloxi, as expressed in a letter published on Friday:

"April 27 will be a sad and disappointing day for hundreds of residents of South Mississippi. On that day FEMA will defund Project Recovery, and this valuable and effective program will be forced to shut down. Project Recovery has been helping people find ways to cope with the stress caused by Katrina. It has done so in an effective and efficient manner by providing free crisis counseling services... at sites other than the mental health clinics.

"For the past year, I have been working at the free medical clinic located in the Bethel Lutheran Church ... . Over 80 percent of the persons who seek help here are suffering the effects of profound personal losses, sleeplessness, homelessness, anxiety about what the future holds for them, and domestic strife. While these are common issues in all communities and families, they are not usually complicated and exacerbated by the worst natural disaster in American history and in the face of a serious deficiency of readily available help in coping. Our coastal communities are, in my view, facing an epidemic of post-traumatic stress syndrome, the dimensions of which are only now, 19 months after Katrina's visit, beginning to be appreciated. In no way is this aspect of the 'crisis' over. The federal government, through FEMA, appears to have decided that it is over, and that Project Recovery is no longer necessary or effective. I want to bear witness and testimony to the contrary."

Project Recovery should be granted a reprieve.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Here on the Coast PTSS is a real, live, ongoing issue. It impacts young and old, rich and poor, slabbed or not. Last summer when Tropical Storm Ernesto popped up many many many miles away, folks around here got very anxious. Being spared any hurricanes last year was life saving in more than one way, and I mean that with all seriousness.
This Wednesday night at our healing service in the "new" quarters at Camp Coast Care, we talked about the Virginia Tech tragedy, and looking for God in these difficult events. I tried to show the BIG difference between and act of nature (Katrina) and an act of evil (Cho). Surely this man was ill and very dark, and I did not feel it my place to judge him or the system or gun control or whatever the secular world needs to discuss around this horrible event. Instead I looked at a group of people who were, literally, scared and confused and very, very anxious.
Their world has been upside down for 20 months now. This news just confirms it for them.
We talked about Jesus emptying himself, becoming a slave, going forward to death, even death on a cross for us. That God knows suffering and it is in that place we can find our own Lord.
Mostly, though, just talking about our fears and anxieties seemed somewhat cathartic for some. As I've said before, the mental health issues down here are enormous, please keep the prayers coming.