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.


Sophia said...

Just a note to let you know that you all remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Lindsay Obendorf said...

Since my long stay at CCC, I've tried to keep up with people & news from the coast. I continue to be frustrated & angry at FEMA's insufficient aid to the Gulf Coast. I still don't have money, but I do have hands & heart. If there's anything I can do, let me know.

Lindsay "Organizing Queen" Obendorf