Hurricane Evacuees Council-Bay Area (HECBA) Event
January 17, 2006
What: Press Conference – Katrina Evacuees Press Conference
Where: Thursday, January 19, 2006, 4:30 pm
1111 Broadway outside FEMA Regional Office (near 12th St BART )
Contact: CC Campbell-Rock, Hurricane Evacuees Council-Bay Area: 504-432-4243
Nell Myhand, Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike: 510-390-8626
Katrina Evacuees Now Victims of FEMA & Relief Agencies
The Hurricane Evacuees Council-Bay Area (HECBA) is holding a press conference on the upcoming FEMA eviction of evacuees from hotels and motels; the on-going housing crisis faced by evacuees in the Bay Area and elsewhere; the millions of dollars going to relief agencies that evacuees are not receiving; the bulldozing of the lower 9th ward; insurance company scams and more.
A lawsuit against FEMA has moved forward the eviction deadline for evacuees living in hotels and motels to February 21, although some evacuees will still be evicted Feb 7th. Hundreds of Bay Area evacuees have been left destitute, in temporary housing, without obligatory FEMA payments or compensation and without assistance to rebuild their homes and lives. Evacuees want to know what has happened to the millions of dollars given to relief agencies by the generosity of those who saw the suffering of people in the superdome and others left to die in filthy toxic water and on rooftops, people who were overwhelming Black and poor. How much has gone to evacuees and how much to administrative costs? Bay Area evacuees are also being denied an evacuee center similar to the one set up in Philadelphia and other cities, where they can go to get help and information from the various relief agencies; instead they are sent from pillar to post and forced to spend thousands of dollar on phones trying to get through to hotlines.
At HECBA meetings, evacuees from Louisiana and the Gulf region tell stories of abuse by FEMA and other agencies:
Leola Brown, an 84-year-old woman has not received the first obligatory FEMA payment of $2300 nor the second $2000. She was told it was sent from Tennessee to San Francisco, then back to Tennessee. Despite daily calls by Ms Brown and her family and FEMA having been given her direct deposit bank account information, the money has not been deposited.
Mr Lonzo, an 84-year-old man with a disability has been living at a hotel. He needs permanent housing to get his social security check transferred to Oakland. He has been repeatedly threatened with eviction and now faces a deadline of Feb 21. Red Cross gave him a list of 24 rentals but will not help him with transportation to see the houses.
Marilyn Taylor, a single mother of four children will be evicted from her hotel in February. She has not had an income since the hurricane and her time is taken up going from agency to agency receiving small amounts of help with food and cash. Her daughter is on track to graduate from high school in June so she needs to live close to the hotel where she is now housed since September. She cannot afford rent for an apartment.
Bertrand Todd, a student from Jackson MS was told by FEMA to track down his landlord in New Orleans before he will qualify for FEMA money which he has no way of doing. FEMA has made no effort to find his landlord and now he faces eviction from the hotel on Feb 7 because he cannot get the ‘authorization code’ from FEMA which is needed to extend his stay in the hotel. He also was told he had to live in CA for one year before he could apply for college in the Bay Area. This was only resolved after he spent thousands of dollars on phone calls. He does not have an income to pay the high rents in the Bay Area.
CC Campbell-Rock’s family lost a house and two cars in New Orleans, they had thousands of dollars of water damage in their home, lost all of their home office equipment, and as a result, their ability to earn an income. They are not getting assistance from home insurance, and will have no access to flood insurance money to rebuild/repair since the flood insurance was sent to the mortgage company who used it to cover mortgage payments.
Gloria S. Brown a 74-year-old woman who swam seven blocks with her dog in toxic flood water and then fought to keep him alive has been separated from her precious companion because animals are not allowed in the flat where she is housed. She has now been promised housing but has no idea when that will happen. Her house in New Orleans is marked for demolition and she has had problems getting airfare home, tracking down what insurance she is eligible for and more. Her cell phone bills have been over $900 due to her receiving the run around from FEMA and the Red Cross.
Danna Harper has two university degrees in New Orleans but has not been able to get waged work in the Bay Area. The only thing left of her house in New Orleans was the front steps and foundation.
Evacuees describe calling FEMA after midnight to speak to a ‘person’ because that is the only time can get through. Often they are on hold for 45 to 90 minutes; people are rude and “speak to us as if we are criminals, then they hang up on us.” HECBA made a request to the San Francisco Hurricane Katrina Long Term Recovery Committee for a center to be set up where evacuees could go and get all the services they need in one visit, but were turned down and instead the Committee is proposing yet another phone line for evacuees to call, this despite the millions in funding their organizations have received.
Here is a list of what money national agencies who are operating in the Bay Area have received recently from the $60 million FEMA funded grant to United Methodists Committee on Relief/Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (UMCOR/NVOAD) for Katrina related case management:
Agency approx grant amount
Salvation Army $12,626,054
Catholic Charities $12,201,927
Lutheran Disaster Response $6,250,000
National Disability Rights Network $5,417,219
Boat People $4,438,649
Volunteers of America $6,000,000
Episcopal Relief and Development tbd
HEBCA is calling for accountability and transparency for all monies from government and non-governmental organizations that is supposed to be for Katrina relief, HECBA is demanding to know how much of this money goes directly to evacuees and how much for administrative costs.
The Hurricane Evacuee Council/Bay Area is composed of people from the Gulf Coast region affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which displaced hundreds of thousands of people now scattered across the country. According to the Red Cross, California received over 14,000 evacuees. San Francisco received 600 and Alameda County 1700. The Hurricane Evacuees Council/Bay Area (HECBA), a multi-racial broad-based network of women and men hurricane evacuees, from Louisiana and Mississippi led by evacuees, and facilitated by theGlobal Women’s Strike/SF.
HECBA would like to thank the Bay to Gulf People’s Pipeline for their support for this press conference.
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