NOW Joins Protest of Inadequate Response to Hurricane Katrina
By Campbell Roth, Publications Coordinator
December 16, 2005
Activists from NOW were at the front of the line when protesters marched on Dec. 14 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Capitol Hill, calling for better oversight of the funds for Hurricane Katrina survivors. Protesters also demanded an end to FEMA's negligence and mismanagement, including the decision to evict Katrina survivors from their temporary housing just three months after the disaster struck.
NOW President Kim Gandy spoke at the rally, where she was joined by Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, Ron Daniels of the Center for Constitutional Rights and other progressive leaders. Katrina survivors from Louisiana and Mississippi, including 9th Ward resident Brenda Celestine, also joined the protest.
"Repairing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is not a black or white issue. It's not a male or female issue. It's a human issue," Gandy said. "And more than calling on FEMA to do a better job at helping the survivors get on with their lives, we must demand that such a woeful response never happens again."
The date of the rally coincided with the final hearing of a special House committee charged with investigating FEMA's response to the hurricane, which wiped out more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. Gov. Kathleen Blanco testified at the hearing that Louisiana will be unable to pay the $3.7 billion owed to the federal government for their assistance following the disaster.
Gandy, a New Orleans native, said the Bush administration is shirking its duty by failing to provide adequate assistance to the millions displaced by the hurricane. Fortunately, on Monday a federal judge responded to a class action suit by refusing to allow FEMA to eject evacuees from FEMA-paid hotel rooms in light of the 84,000 aid applications still listed as "pending," and extended the deadline to February 7 to give FEMA more time to process those applications.
Gandy pointed out that the vast majority of the 1,300 Katrina-related deaths were elderly, and most of the elderly are women. "The measure of a nation is how well it takes care of its poor, its elderly, its infirm," Gandy said. "Hurricane Katrina was a test of our efforts to help our own, and this government is failing."
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