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Mercy Corps' Hurricane Katrina response - from relief to recovery

  • Agency Helps Underserved with Emergency Supplies: Power Generators, Blankets, Shelter, Clothing & Food

  • "Comfort for Kids" Program Helps Children Cope with Trauma

  • Economic Development Program to Provide Jobs and Skills Training

Baton Rouge, LA - Mercy Corps' Hurricane Katrina humanitarian response grew this week to include both immediate emergency assistance and longer-term recovery projects. The agency's response team in Louisiana and Mississippi currently numbers twelve and will grow in the coming weeks as local people are hired to help lead their own recovery.

This week, the agency's aid workers in Baton Rouge distributed emergency items to thousands of survivors displaced by Hurricane Katrina in towns that have not received aid, including Pass Christian, Mississippi and Slidell, Louisiana. Six large (20 KW) power generators arrive in Louisiana today to help state-run health clinics that are desperate for more power for patients.

To address the daunting long-term recovery process for hurricane-affected people, Mercy Corps' "Comfort for Kids" program will provide psycho-social support for the huge number of displaced children who may be experiencing trauma. Comfort for Kids materials will include a guide for caregivers working with children entitled "What Happened to My World?" and a coloring book that is designed around the hurricane and employs art therapy techniques.

Mercy Corps and partner groups will also provide trauma training for professionals that work with youth. The program is modeled after a similar one Mercy Corps developed in response to the 9/11 crisis in New York City. The program will be implemented with the support of Bright Horizons Family Solutions and JPMorganChase in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, where large numbers of evacuees have relocated.

Using its expertise in jumpstarting small businesses to revitalize local economies, Mercy Corps also is implementing an economic development program for hurricane survivors that will help them get back to work as soon as possible. Working closely with local communities to help them identify their own priorities, Mercy Corps is exploring skills training in a variety of deconstruction projects that salvage and re-use materials and small business loans so that local entrepreneurs and small businesses can participate in the huge amount of reconstruction work that is already underway in the region.

In addition, Mercy Corps continues to address basic needs like food and shelter through its local partner, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), which is serving displaced people around the region through its extensive network of dioceses and parishes.

How to help:

Online: http://www.mercycorps.org/index.php?source=cr02.

Phone: 1-800-852-2100

Mail: Mercy Corps, Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, Dept CR02, PO Box 2669, Portland OR 97208