"Thanksgiving is coming and, well... life in New Orleans 15 months after Katrina is... still pretty darned hard.
So what shall we be thankful for?
It didn't take us long to realize what we are thankful for here at the Data Center -- all the people who care about New Orleans. All the people who have moved back and all the people who have come to help us rebuild. Those who came to our aid, and those who continue to support us from afar with their expertise and generosity. And all the New Orleanians who have decided this is our chance to make things better in our beloved city and are working diligently to make it so.
Here at the Data Center we are particularly grateful for our local partners at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) who have worked single-mindedly to create population and demographic estimates under almost impossible conditions. And we're grateful for VIALINK, Agenda for Children, the GNO Afterschool Partnership, and LPHI's Partnership for Access to Healthcare who have toiled to track changes in daycare centers, afterschool programs, hospitals, and clinics, so that we can all see where these essential services are still lacking.
And we're grateful to those at the Brookings Institution who have been monitoring monthly indicators of recovery through their Katrina Index -- from average wages to open bus routes. And to the Urban Institute and the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations for rounding up the research that experts have conducted here since the storm, to create an easy-to-use compilation of post-Katrina best practices and evidence in a single web site.
We are grateful to all of the Data Center's partners and contributors.* Their work is but one demonstration of the dedication that exists to the rebuilding of New Orleans... as well as an ability to work together locally that was unprecedented before the storm.
But the efforts of these researchers is almost insignificant compared to the total outpouring of support our city has received since the catastrophe. An extraordinary number of people and organizations from near and far have volunteered their time and efforts to the rebuilding of this great city. And when you look at the evidence, there's a whole lot there to be thankful for. Here are but a few examples:
- 35,158 volunteers from the Corporation for National and Community Service (Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and VISTA) have contributed an estimated 1,624,335 hours in the Gulf Coast area
- 575,555 individuals volunteered in Gulf Coast recovery efforts including 220,000 from the Red Cross alone
- Hands On Network volunteers in the Gulf region have contributed 413,960 hours gutting homes, restoring parks, and volunteering in schools
- And more people volunteer every day as evidenced by the increase in average daily searches for volunteer opportunities on Volunteer.gov from 572 pre-Katrina to more than 3000 post-Katrina
Oh, and let's not forget the $3,574,031,029 donated by individuals, foundations and corporations for post-Katrina relief and recovery as of February 2006. (This is more money than was donated after 9/11!)
Yes, there's a lot to be thankful for in 2006 post-Katrina New Orleans.
And... there's you. Thank you for joining the struggle to understand this incomprehensible post-Katrina situation. Thank you for desiring to understand our new world, so that we all, working together, can figure out how to productively move forward... and make New Orleans even better than it was before." -GNOCDC