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By all accounts, this isn't going to be a fun summer in New Orleans. The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has said they expect 5-7 mandatory evacuations of the city. The levees are, by best accounts, to "pre-Katrina levels"; I've read that everything Category 3 and above will be a mandatory evacuation. This is a huge problem: many, many people don't have a way to get out. Any mass movement is a big health issue, and if it floods things could get very bad.<br><br><br><br>
In May, there was some flooding in Massachusetts, north of Boston. The poorest city in all of New England, Lawrence, was hardest hit; sewage was pumped into the rivers for several days at a rate of 35 million gallons a day. While the area was still flooded, a group of local activists formed Waters Rising, a flood relief collective. Many members had worked in New Orleans (some of them being there just a few days after the hurricane), and wanted to use that experience and knowledge to strengthen the poorest communities, which while hardest hit, were also expected to recieve inadequate government assistance.<br><br><br><br>
I was one of the core members and organizers, and can verify that things were crazy. For over two weeks we were at Lazarus House, the largest family shelter and food kitchen in the region, nearly every day, hauling somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand pounds of sewage-bloated chunks of meat and other foods out of the basement, disinfecting, and making sure that the services normally provided weren't interrupted. On less than a days notice, we made lunches for over 200 people (having to get the supplies ourselves). We worked with several other community groups to restore services and provide aid, and also with individuals who had been abandoned by both their neighbors and the state.<br><br><br><br>
Our work has wrapped up here, and now I'm looking to use my experience and skills down in New Orleans. I'm also a medic, and the Common Ground medical team needs all the help they can get. I need to be down there on July 1st, and I'll be staying till late December (and potentially till next August, I have the option of staying). I'll need to fly down because of my schedule, but I can't afford to spend what's needed to fly from Boston to New Orleans. This is my appeal to anyone who wants to use their frequent flyer miles for a good cause: help me get a ticket! Anything leaving from Boston that'll get me to New Orleans by July 1st. You'll be sending an experienced flood relief worker and medic down for the long-term to do relief and rebuilding. If you can help, please PM me.
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