After a catastrophe, residents face great financial and emotional hardships. They are thrown completely off balance and are overwhelmed, rendering them unlikely to make sound and informed decisions. Many have difficulty navigating the quagmire of government programs and detailed application processes required for assistance. They lack direction on where to begin. Some may ultimately give up and abandon their homes to become blight.
That’s why after disaster strikes, it is simply not enough to focus on providing material to rebuild houses. The social fabric must be restored in order to facilitate rebirth. It is essential that neighborhood leaders first repair the connective tissue that binds and sustains a community by bringing synergy and unity to the relief effort quickly.
An organized group of residents can best direct their neighbors to the myriad of resources that will inevitably come to the community’s aid. Through dissemination of on-the-ground-data, information and resources, this group of residents can quicken the repopulation of a neighborhood, and encourage their neighbors to rebuild.
On October 1st, Tina Marquardt the Executive Director of Beacon of Hope Resource Center NOLA, presented to 5 Marshall Memorial Fellows from Spain, France, Albania, and Germany, who were being hosted by the University of New Orleans. Founded in 1982, the Marshall Memorial Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for emerging leaders from the United States and Europe to build an understanding of business, politics, innovation, and culture on the other side of the Atlantic.
For the past 6 years Beacon has hosted several Marshall Fellow groups sharing lessons learned and how ordinary citizens were able to make a significant difference in their community’s recovery post Katrina. To hear how 750 New Orleans resident volunteers monitored over 24,000 properties conditions, managed over 30,000 visiting volunteers who completed 1700 homeowner projects, replanted 27 miles of green space and renovated 15 public parks and playgrounds, is almost unconscionable to many of the Fellows who visit the Beacon of Hope Resource Center. In the countries where these visitors are from, the government manages most of these types of things, so it was unique for them to hear about communities organizing and working together to help each other rebuild, and to address the issues their neighborhoods were dealing with after a disaster.
Tina Marquardt, Executive Director of Beacon of Hope Resource Center met with Staten Island civic association leaders to discuss potential roadblocks to their neighborhood’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
On June 24-25, 2013 Tina Marquardt, Beacon of Hope’s Executive Director attended The City Resilient Conference hosted by PopTech, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, New York. The focus of the summit was to explore the general dynamics of urban resilience, drawing on the lessons from Superstorm Sandy in New York, and from other disruptions in cities around the country and the world including best practices that New Orleans and Beacon of Hope developed to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Tina was not the only New Orleanian to attend as can be seen by the video below which includes a discussion with New Orleans Council Woman LaToya Cantrell.
On June 28, 2013 Tina Marquardt, the Executive Director of Beacon of Hope Resource Center participated in a New York TV Station interview (click left image to go to article) with Beacon of Hope New York to talk about how mold in homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy can be toxic not only to the immediate neighbors, but the neighboring communities as it was in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This news report resulted in Congressman Micheal Grimm holding a press conference (click right image to go to article) to encourage city leaders to take action to clean up the mold in abandoned homes.
In order to reduce looting and copper thievery in their neighborhoods, Beacon of Hope New York is implementing one of Beacon of Hope Resource Center – New Orleans’ best practices. They have printed stickers that their neighbors can place on the rear window of their cars. These stickers assist the police and neighborhood watch to identify which cars belong in the neighborhood and which ones (if acting suspicious,) should be looked into. The video below is an article NBC New York did on this project. For more information on this neighborhoods fight against looting, please go to http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130603/new-dorp-beach/sandy-relief-group-gives-out-car-stickers-prove-residency-amid-looting.