“This weekend is the fifth anniversary of the devastation that Katrina wrought in New Orleans. As a member of the Creole community, I feel a deep connection to New Orleans and the Gulf region, and want to send out my prayers to those who are still working to rebuild there. The destruction that Katrina caused really struck home for me—so many brothers and sisters lost, and so many lives shattered.
“I see a corollary to the vast destruction of the earthquake that Port-au-Prince suffered just seven months ago: Like the people of the Gulf Coast, my countrymen in Haiti have been forced to witness more despair than anyone should have to bear. And in New Orleans, as it is in Haiti, so much of the loss was suffered by those who had little to begin with.
“New Orleans is still in the process of reviving its communities, and this fifth anniversary has been planned to focus on people coming together to rebuild where it’s still needed. I’m so inspired by the scores of people—and companies—who have stepped in, and are still stepping in, to show their support for those who continue to struggle to get their lives back to “normal.”
“I recently read of a Washington, D.C.-based publishing company, United Communications Group, that had led a relief effort five years ago for Katrina victims; at a cost of just $80,000, this corporation and its employees were able to assist hundreds of people. Many more companies are timing rebuilding campaigns to the anniversary this week: Among them, Marriott will work with Habitat for Humanity to build a home and a playground. Barnes & Noble’s founder, Leonard Riggio, funded a nonprofit, Project Home Again, that will be putting up houses in still damaged neighborhoods in New Orleans. And Sears has partnered with Rebuilding Together on its Fifty for Five event, which will aim to put 50 families back into homes in one week (an effort I had planned to join until it became clear that the current challenges of my campaign for Haiti’s president will not allow it.).
“There is probably more rebuilding in this one week in New Orleans than there has been in Haiti in the seven months since the earthquake struck. The corporate sponsors helping to redevelop New Orleans reinforces my thought that Haiti must be re-opened for business—and soon.
“God bless the New Orleans natives who are still fighting to rebuild their neighborhoods, and their lives, and I ask all of them to say a prayer, in turn, for the Haitians who are still fighting to survive in my homeland.”