Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years Of Relief And Recovery

Five years ago, on August 29th, Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast. Philanthropists respond by giving $6.5 billion. The pace and level of giving was unprecedented, breaking all previous records of disaster-related giving. In fact, we had some of our busiest days ever as we helped donors review and support the charities that responded to this catastrophe.

A year after Katrina, we published an update. The most popular part of our report was a roundtable discussion among leaders of a few of the charities –Desire Street Ministries, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, American Red Cross, Operation USA and Direct Relief International - that had participated in the recovery efforts. They offered a pretty frank discussion about what went right and what went wrong. The American Red Cross even responded to some of the criticism it had received about its Katrina aid. The report also included a set of 5 takeaways for donors – such as a reminder to follow up on donations made to review the charity’s progress and to determine if needed additional support.

Now, five years later, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 70% of New Orleans residents say they are happy with the recover efforts with 67% saying that they have recovered from the storm. Of course, many news outlets and others are using the anniversary as an opportunity to take a closer look at the recovery efforts including:

I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans earlier this summer. The consistent message I heard was ‘we’re open for business; please send your friends and family down here.” In other words, a great way to continue to support the recovery is to participate in their tourism industry. And why not? I had a wonderful time- from the food, to the jazz, to the museums, to the rich history – it is a fabulous place to visit. Of course, you can still contribute to charities helping in the region and you can still volunteer your time – as my friend did a few weeks ago assisting with Habitat for Humanity via a program initiated through her employer.

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