Saturday, September 03, 2005

Prayer and Action for Hurricane Victims

from Prayer and Action for Hurricane Victims by Jim Wallis

During hurricanes,... those who have the least to lose are often those who lose the most. Why? First, the dwellings in which poor people live are not as others. "Shotgun" shacks, mobile homes,... don't do well in hurricane-force winds...

Second,... The rich often live at the tops of hills, the poor in the valleys and plains that are the first to flood. The living conditions in these neighborhoods are also usually the most dense and overcrowded.

Third, it is much harder for the poor to evacuate. They don't own cars,... and often can't even afford a tank of gas-- especially at today's prices. They can't afford an airplane, train, or even bus ticket.... People in poverty can't afford motel or hotel rooms, and often don't have friends or family in other places with space to spare....

Fourth, low-income people are the least likely to have insurance... and... health-insurance. If jobs are lost because of natural disasters, theirs are the first to go.... [leaving] no reserve for emergencies.

New Orleans has a poverty rate of 28%... Yet even in normal times, poverty is hidden and not reported by the media. In times of disaster, there continues to be little coverage of the excessive impact on the poor. Devastated luxury homes and hotels, drifting yachts and battered casinos, make far more compelling photographs.

The final irony of New Orleans is that the people who normally fill the Louisiana Superdome are those who can afford the high cost of tickets, parking, and concessions. Now its inhabitants are the poor, especially children, the elderly and the sick-- those with nowhere else to go. Those with money are nowhere to be seen.

As the Gulf Coast now faces the long and difficult task of recovery, what can we do?

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared Wednesday [August 31 a day of prayer: "As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain, and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort." [Let us make every day a "day of prayer"!] She urged residents in her state to ask "that God give us all the physical and spiritual strength to work through this crisis and rebuild." [Only God or Love can help!]

Encourage friends and family to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina with their prayers and donations.

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