Last week, President Obama announced that he was establishing a Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group, which will be convening public meetings for input on disaster recovery policy and practices. Gulf Coast activists have expressed hope that this is an opportunity to advise the Obama administration on the steps that need to be taken to ensure the just and equitable recovery that we have been needing for four years.
The Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group is co-chaired by Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Other members of the working group include the secretaries and administrators of 20 departments, agencies, and offices. The Working Group will convene a series of meetings that are detailed on the website www.disasterrecoveryworkinggroup.gov.
The Disaster Recovery Working Group website features a questionnaire for public feedback. The questions display an assumption that the federal government does not bear responsibility for Gulf Coast recovery. For example, question number ten asks, "As disaster recovery is primarily a state and local leadership issue, what are best practices for the timing (including start and end) and form of federal assistance and coordination?"
We encourage you to take the time to carefully complete the questionnaire, and please consider including the recommendations by the Gulf States Human Rights Working Group (which you can find at KatrinaAction.org) and the Katrina Citizens Leadership Corps (online at childrensdefense.org), which call on the Obama administration to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which call for the US government to take responsibility for the recovery of internally displaced people.
You can go to www.disasterrecoveryworkingroup.gov to complete and submit the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group questionnaire for public feedback online.
Photo of President Obama in New Orleans by Abdul Aziz.