Bill Quigley's 10 lessons
At "Facing South," guest contributor Bill Quigley has posted 10 IMPORTANT LESSONS: Katrina, Two Years Later. Excerpt:
One. Build and rebuild community....read on.
When disaster hits and life is wrecked, you immediately seem to be on your own. Isolation after a disaster is a recipe for powerlessness and depression. Family, community, church, work associations are all important --get them up and working as fast as possible. People will stand up and fight, but we need communities to do it. Prize women --they are the first line of community builders. Guys will talk and fight and often grab the spotlight, but women will help everyone and do whatever it takes to protect families and communities. Powerful forces mobilize immediately after a disaster. People and politicians and organizations have their own agendas and it helps them if our communities are fragmented. Setting one group against another, saying one group is more important than another is not helpful. Stress and distress is high for everyone, but community support will multiply the resources of individuals. Build bridges. People together are much stronger than people alone.
Your community must be ready to re-settle your property as soon as possible and care for those most in need. Prioritize help for the elderly, the sick, children and women, especially the poor. The prime cure for helplessness is taking control over your own life and joining others to fight for justice. Groups and people will want to treat you like a victim --say you are traumatized and incapable of making basic decisions about yourself. They will tell you they know best and act like they know best. Tell them to get lost.
Three. Tell your own story.
Sharing our stories, successes and failures, is a way to connect and educate ourselves. Connecting with others nationally and internationally who have been through disasters is the very best thing that you can do. Disasters and the corporations that cause them and profit from them do not respect national boundaries. Look for global justice connections. Learn from those who have been through this before. They will tell you - do not let anyone say who you are or what is best for your community --say it yourself.
Those in power will blame circumstances outside their control for what happened and inevitably they will blame the victims of the disaster. Those in power will tell the people's story in ways that makes the powerful look good. If others do not tell the truth --you do it and get your stories out. Real allies help lift up the voices of the people.