Faith-based non-profits are struggling to raise awareness and funds for Hurricane Isaac relief efforts as the hurricane’s destruction drops from national discussion.
Compared to Hurricane Katrina, whose haunting images of destruction and recovery lingered in the national discourse for weeks and months after the storm made landfall, Hurricane Isaac’s news coverage quickly came and went without a lingering debate. The lack of awareness across the country has led to a lack of resources for responding agencies. Many faith-based organizations, such as Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Blessing, have responded for short-term relief, but decisions have not yet been made whether the organizations will maintain a long-term presence as many organizations did after Hurricane Katrina—a decision that may rely heavily on available funds.
As a result, the Hurricane Isaac relief effort is expected to be more regionally-driven than Hurricane Katrina.
The U.S. Congressman who represents New Orleans has introduced a last-minute proposed bill to reform FEMA’s policies in assisting disaster victims.
The bill introduced by Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat, would require FEMA to pay out 50 percent of its damage assessment within three days of completing a preliminary damage assessment of disaster victims, enable the president to authorize emergency disaster financing to repair permanent structures and train and hire locals to assist in agency paperwork.
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service offered a web-based seminar on federal laws and guidelines for individuals who wished to create a disaster relief non-profit organization.
The webinar covered rules and regulations for starting a disaster relief charity, as well as compliance with other applicable tax codes and federal regulations.
Plaquemines Parish, the area of Louisiana hardest hit by Hurricane Isaac, has continuously faced the onslaught of hurricanes over time. But losing 2,000 square miles of marshland since the 1930s and not receiving federal funds for its levee system seemed to have created a vulnerability for Isaac and other future storms.
Many parish residents complained the Isaac damage was worse than what was experienced in the parish during Hurricane Katrina and other past hurricanes. Some point to the eroding marshlands that once stood as a storm barrier as a cause for the parish’s heavy damage from August’s Hurricane Isaac. One factor considered in those eroding marshlands is the 2010 BP oil spill.
Workers are still recovering the area from Isaac, nearly a month after the storm hit. The storm surged over the locally-built levee, causing buildings that were raised seven-and-a-half feet above land to flood, power lines to fail and nearly 2,000 local cattle to drown.