A 'crazy' idea from 70-year-old Betsy Smith amidst the lack of an automated federal response sparked the effort: "Rather than just donate money....donate $120 to pay an unemployed person $15 an hour for an 8-hour day's work helping with the cleanup effort."Read more
As soon as survivors of the Katrina catastrophe began arriving in the Houston Astrodome, and in the suburbs of Dallas and North Texas, leaders and organizers from The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) and Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) began identifying potential leaders among the evacuees and teaching them to organize their colleagues in coordination with the local community. Survivors Groups involving thousands of families were organized by West and Southwest IAF affiliates throughout Texas and Louisiana, and successfully addressed issues ranging from restoration of cell phone service to extension of FEMA housing deadlines to absentee ballot GOTV work around the New Orleans elections the next spring.
"Mission Hasn't Ended for Katrina Survivor's Network," Dallas Morning News, 8/29/10
Group Moves Quickly to Reconnect, Organize Astrodome 'Residents', Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, 12/1/05
Even as Louisiana was still recovering from Katrina, Hurricanes Rita and Ike battered the Texas Gulf Coast, leading TMO to establish Gulf Coast Interfaith as an institution to tackle post-hurricane issues.
Not only did the effort result in the replacement of hundreds of roofs of the lowest-income families, leaders also ensured that recovery funds went to the counties that needed them the most -- thus increasing recovery funds for low-income and elderly families devastated by the storms.