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WV Katrina Relief Volunteers Quote Gulf Survivors: “Don’t Forget Us”

August 29, 2007

Wheeling, WV – On the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, more than 60,000 survivors still live in FEMA trailers, and at least 200,000 people haven’t returned to their homes. Teams of students from Wheeling Jesuit University have spent their summer breaks and other vacations helping to rebuild and cleaning up homes.

Erin McDonald has led several of the trips. She says the Gulf Coast’s poorest residents took the brunt of the damage, and reconstruction has been moving very slowly in their neighborhoods.

"Folks who are of the working poor and people of lower socio-economic status especially are having a hard time getting back to their homes."

McDonald says rebuilding homes is just part of the mission; that it also is vital to spread the word that Gulf Coast residents still need help, from the government as well as volunteers and donors.

"One of the big things they’ve asked of us is that when we return home, to not forget them, and to tell their stories so the rest of the country won’t forget about them either."

Gary Zuckett of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group adds that the failure of the New Orleans levies, as well as the recent bridge collapse in the Midwest, show the need for solid levels of government investment for the public good.

"We need to maintain a level of government so that can support the infrastructure we collectively provide to ourselves through our government: our schools, fire departments, police departments, bridges, water service."

WJU students involved in the reconstruction trips are speaking this week in Wheeling as part of nationwide anniversary commemorations of the devastating storm.

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WV