On August 29, 2005, one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in the history of the United States struck the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina claimed more than 1,800 lives, forced hundreds of thousands from flood-ravaged homes, and caused widespread damage across the entire region.
This is the story of how the UJC/Federation community came together to raise $28 million for Hurricane Katrina relief in the Jewish and general communities, building one of the most effective disaster relief efforts in North America. (View video of the devastation and the UJC/Federation response).
The humanitarian work of UJC/Federations in the wake of Katrina was the finest expression of what our system was created for: ensuring that a generous network of help reached those in need … saving lives, and building and strengthening community.
While the storm was still raging, UJC put our national system into motion. UJC immediately deployed assessment and planning teams to highly impacted communities. Within a matter of days, UJC began distributing aid. Much of the initial allocation provided emergency aid and shelter, food and counseling for disaster victims.
But it was just as critical to provide long-term solutions. Leading a coalition of Jewish organizations, UJC developed a stabilization plan for the communities of Baton Rouge, Biloxi and New Orleans — ensuring the survival of Jewish institutions and creating a lifeline to vitally needed services so people could begin to move forward with their lives.
Thousands of volunteers — funded in part by the UJC/Federation system — had the opportunity to do hands-on relief and recovery activities in the Gulf Region … serving as coalition builders and ambassadors for “Tikkun Olam” in the general community.
Click here for an Overview of the UJC/Federations response, and click here for the full Final Report on the response. (Communities can order a print copy of this report from UJC for $3 per copy to cover printing costs. Please contact Cynthia Kouakou at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.)
A sampling of some of the larger allocations indicates the variety of post-Katrina needs:
• $8.45 million for a two-year stabilization plan for the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and Biloxi Network community, to help repair and replace damaged communal property and restore and sustain communal institutions and services;
• $1.5 million for the Houston federation to aid evacuees in that area;
• $450,000 for the Jewish Funds for Justice to expand its capacity to make loans and promote financial development projects in the New Orleans area;
• $400,000 for Grantmakers in Aging-Hurricane Fund for the Elderly, for six New Orleans projects dealing with geriatric care, low-income residents, community housing, legal aid for home rebuilding; senior job-training; and social services for low-income elderly;
• $350,000 to the San Antonio, Texas, food bank, to feed evacuees;
• $333,334 allocation and matching grant to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, for hunger relief in the Jewish and general communities, for 13 groups, most of them food banks, in the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to aid hurricane victims;
• $306,350 to the Israel Trauma Coalition, for first responders immediately after the storm, and for rebuilding resiliency in Biloxi, MS. schools;
• $250,000 to the Dallas, Texas, Mayor’s Housing Initiative, to provide housing assistance to evacuees;
• $238,000 to the New York Board of Rabbis, to fund a pastoral care counselor stationed for two years in Mississippi, Baton Rouge and New Orleans;
• $225,000 in emergency aid to evacuees and impacted residents in Alexandria, Lafayette, and Lake Charles, LA., as well as Biloxi and Diamondhead, MS.;
• $153,900 to the Jewish Federation of Northern Louisiana to provide Wal-Mart gift cards to evacuees in shelters;
• $126,600 to the Mental Health Association of Mississippi, Gulfport and its Project Resilience; Strong Preschoolers, Strong Parents, to work with pre-school children who suffer from, or are at risk of, post-traumatic stress disorder;
• $65,000 to Kaboom! Operation Playground, to fund the construction of a playground in a New Orleans neighborhood;
• $55,000 to Kaboom! Operation Playground, to fund the construction of a playground in Long Beach, MS.;
• $50,000 to the Jackson, MS. community, for emergency aid to evacuees;
• $38,278 to Chabad to establish the chevra kadisha, or burial society, in Baton Rouge and help its search and rescue efforts in the Biloxi area;
• $29,886 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta to assist evacuees;
• $11,000 to Congregation Beth Shalom, of Baton Rouge, LA., for a two-year stabilization plan;
• $2,800 to the Jewish Federation of Arkansas to aid evacuees.