Katrina Networking

I am using my networking and marketing skills to pass along vital information to organizations, volunteers and survivors of the 2005 hurricane season. Grants, networking, advocating, assistance resources, articles and more. Updated regularly to better assist you.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

For Purple Heart Recipients

If you are a Purple Heart recipient, or know one who has not received disaster relief from the Purple Heart Association, call Aires Robinson at (505) 463-6261.


The Military Order of the Purple Heart is offering some post Katrina financial assistance to war veterans wounded fighting for our nation. Members say helping recipients recover from the storm is the least it can do for those who have sacrificed so much.

Korean War Veteran Louis "Paul" Eaves lost his leg during battle in 1952.

"I was hit by a small mortar. It landed right behind me," Eaves said.

The Purple Heart and other metals he received for his bravery were blown away by Katrina, along with everything else he owned.

"I knew it was a bad storm and I expected to have some damage, but I didn't expect everything to be gone."

Eaves is just one of 200 Purple Heart recipients living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Helping them recover is something the Purple Heart Association says it must do.

"These are members of a society who have, in my estimation, validated their citizenship by having shed blood for their country on the battle fields of this nation, and they deserve whatever we can do for them," Henry Cook with the Purple Heart Association said.

The association is raising funds for storm victims and has given each recipient more than $5,000 so far.

"To date, we've issued checks to about 41 patriots who have lost everything. We're searching for those we have not yet found."

And that's where Purple Heart Service Officer Aires Robinson comes into the picture. He has the job of trying find war veterans displaced by the storm.

"So far in Mississippi the organization has given me 23 members. I have located 16, so far. Hopefully they're looking at this program and they will see me on here and they would call me," Robinson said.

That one call could go a long way.

"The VA has grants for those who lost homes and need to make their new homes more accessible to a person whose confined to a wheelchair."

The organization will also help war veterans like Louis Eaves get replacement medals for the ones he lost, including his Purple Heart.

If you are a Purple Heart recipient, or know one who has not received disaster relief from the Purple Heart Association, call Aires Robinson at (505) 463-6261.

by Al Showers

Friday, April 28, 2006

CDC Article On Emergency Services Workers


These are excerpts from the article, which is HUGE, so didn't want to put the entire thing here. It gives a fairly clear indicator of what all Emergency Services personnel are going through in the Gulf Region. The following stats don't mean there will be chronic problems, but the longer all of it goes untreated, the higher the risk of chronic issues appearing.

Floodwater contact with the nose, mouth, or eye was reported by 51% of firefighters and 30% of police officers
52% of police officers and 63% of firefighters reported rescuing citizens from flooded areas.
69% of police officers and 59% of firefighters reported that they were not living with their families at the time of the survey.

Police officers and firefighters reported similar prevalences of physical health symptoms.
28% of police officers and 31% of firefighters reported upper respiratory symptoms
Cough was reported by 21% of police officers and 23% of firefighters.
Skin rash was reported by 54% of police officers and 49% of firefighters
Injuries most commonly reported by police officers and firefighters were lacerations
Police officers: 20% firefighters: 24%
sprains/strains: 13% and 25%
falls: 9% and 10%
animal bites/stings: 11% and 8%

22% of Fire fighters reported symptoms consistent with PTSD and 27% reported major depressive symptoms.
Police officers 19% reported PTSD symptoms and 26% reported major depressive symptoms.

Among all police officers, 31% reported seeing a health-care provider for post-hurricane illnesses and injuries; health-care utilization among firefighters was not assessed.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Avoiding Heat Related Illness

Hello everyone.

Since summer has set in on the Gulf, but spring has barely arrived up North, I figured I’d write a small missive about Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke and Dehydration. These are all things you will have to watch your volunteers for as they work. I am also attaching a poster you can place where the volunteers will see it.

My medical background includes having been a paramedic and in emergency medical services for 15 years as well as having a degree in Health Science and Exercise Physiology. I have also lived in Louisville, KY and Dallas, TX so am very familiar with working in very hot, humid conditions.

Most of your volunteers are what would be called unconditioned. They aren't athletes in any sense of the word, so their ability to deal with heat under physical stress is diminished. That's one strike. The next strike is if they have any underlying medical conditions, which I would guess about half have. If they have high blood pressure or heart conditions, they should do as little hard manual labor as possible. Any medications they are on are likely to diminish their ability to deal with heat even further.

So, since you're only working with one strike left, you've got to make the most of it.

Strongly urge that no caffeine be taken to the work sites. Caffeine in the AM and after work is finished is tolerable, but not during work.
Carbonated beverages are tolerable, but not optimal during work.
Take breaks every 15 minutes to drink. Suggest they take their pulse.
Seriously consider stopping work at 2PM.
Urge the volunteers to alternate water with their favorite beverage.

Caffeine increases body temperature, pulse, constricts blood vessels and draws water out of the body. None of these things are good in hot conditions. Hence, no caffeine at work sites.

Carbonated beverages don't offer much more than sugar with a little water, so aren't of high value, but are certainly better than drinking nothing at all. Sports drinks are OK as well, as is Gatorade or Tang.

By taking breaks every 15 minutes to drink, this will help better assure hydration and will also keep Heat Exhaustion/Stroke at bay. Having them take their pulse during these breaks will also give a very quick evaluation of their status. If their heart rates are over 100 5 minutes into the break, they need to rest further. Heat Exhaustion is beginning.

The hottest part of the day actually begins after 2PM – generally around 3PM and continues well into the evening. In Dallas, temperatures would remain into the 90’s well after midnight. If you must, begin work early – say 630AM. This is generally the coolest time of the day.

Knowing that water can be very tedious, urge the volunteers to alternate their beverages with water. As I stated before, just about anything is acceptable, as long as water is included. The best test for full hydration is the color of the urine. Clear and almost colorless is perfect. If it's cloudy and dark, the person is NOT drinking enough. This will be included in the poster. Gatorade is good. Tang might be better. It is higher in potassium, which is more important than the sodium in Gatorade. Plus, people might drink more of it due to better taste. And it can be mixed to individual strengths.

No alcohol. Heat Exhaustion/Stroke can set in well after the work is complete. Alcohol has the best potential to throw a person's body into one of these long after the hot work is done.

Think about having things such as dill pickles and green olives available. After work in Dallas, I would eat at least a half dozen olives and then drink another gallon of water during the evening. Even with this, I would be dehydrated by the end of the week. 2 gallons of fluids each day is not unreasonable and very much favored. Expect the volunteers to be dehydrated by week's end and not be performing as well as they should. Accidents will be far more likely the last day of work due to the brain not working quite right without its water.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:
The signs of heat exhaustion include paleness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fainting, and a moderately increased temperature (101-102 degrees F). They will also have excessive sweating. This means they will look like they've been hit with a fire hose of water. You'll know it if you see it.

If a person shows these signs, get them to a cool shady place that has a fan or breeze. Make them lie down and drink fluids as much as possible. If they are vomiting, they may need to seek emergency medical assistance as this can lead to Heat Stroke. They will NOT be able to work for the duration of their visit. Heat Exhaustion does not end in a day. It takes several days to weeks to fully recover.

Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. It can occur even in people who are not exercising, if the weather is hot enough. These people have warm, flushed (red) skin, and do not sweat. Whether exercise-related or not, though, a person with heat stroke usually has a very high temperature (106 degrees F or higher), and may be delirious, unconscious, or having seizures. These people need to have their temperature reduced quickly, often with ice packs, and must also be given IV fluids for rehydration; they must be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible and may have to stay in the hospital for observation since many different body organs can fail in heat stroke.

Anyone suffering from Heat Stroke must not work in this type environment again for about a year and may never be able to again. Heat Stroke alters the body's ability to tolerate hot environments. Also – if anyone in the team does suffer Heat Stroke, assume all are suffering from Heat Exhaustion and stop all work.

I know it sounds serious. And it is. But with proper hydration listed at the beginning, there will be no problems. I just want you aware of what could happen so that you can take care of yourself and your volunteers.

If you are a long-term volunteer, seriously consider eating yogurt every day, significantly reducing your sugar intake, and even taking acidophyllus pills. These actions will significantly reduce your chances at athlete's foot, jock itch, yeast infection - which are all basically the same thing, just different areas of the body. Change all underclothing (socks too) twice a day in order to minimize your risk for these problems. This is knowledge gained from personal experience!

The Following is a poster I made for you to put where your volunteers will be able to read it and educate themselves:

Avoid Heat Related Illness!

No Caffeine While Working
Drink Fluids Every 15 Minutes While Working
Rest 5 Minutes Every 15 Minutes
Take Your Pulse Before Starting Work Again.

Your pulse is over 100, REST until it’s below 90.
You feel nauseous, STOP working.
You stop sweating, STOP working.
You feel dizzy, STOP working.

Find the coolest spot possible, lie down, and drink copious amounts of fluids. If, after 30 minutes you continue to feel ill or worse, seek medical attention NOW and alert your team leader. No work for the rest of the day.

After work, continue drinking every 15 minutes until your urine is clear and pale yellow. Dark and/or cloudy means you’re dehydrated. It’ll only get worse tomorrow if you don’t keep drinking.

If you don’t like water, alternate it with another fluid. NO ALCOHOL

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Operation Rise Website


I honestly don't remember how I came across this website, but I did. I guess that means I surf too much.

Anyway, it's a great site with so many not-for-profit orgs that there's no way I could single them all out to post here on this blog. I'm amazed at what I have now, so have NO clue what I'd be if I added all of them too.

Andre just emailed me and stated:
We are currently making some improvements to the Operation Rise website. After these are made, we are going to re-promote it to nonprofits on the Coast and to more funders.

I will put an update on as soon as he lets me know all of the updates are complete. I think it will be an incredible site, once these are done. It's good now, but it'll be interesting to see what the updates bring.

Text from their website:

Welcome to Operation R.I.S.E. (Rebuilding Infrastructure in Service Entities), an initiative created by the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits to gather resources and information in order to help organize efficient, effective recovery efforts following the devastation by Hurricane Katrina.
This website serves as a clearinghouse of information and resources for those affected by the hurricane and those wishing to help the recovery effort. At
www.operationrise.org, nonprofit organizations can tell their stories and categorize their needs in assessment surveys, letting the public know what they need to rebuild and survive. Individuals and funding organizations can search for appropriate recipients for funding and can list themselves as sources of financial assistance.

The following link will take you to the region Hancock County is in. Sorry I can't narrow it further.

If you'd rather search by type of organization you wish to help, use this link:

It's a very informative site.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Financial Assistance - Utilities and Mortgages

Mortgage Assistance

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Wednesday that $40 million is being made available in low cost mortgages to Mississippi hurricane victims. Freddie Mac is the second-largest U.S. buyer and guarantor of home mortgages.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry trade group, has estimated that some 360,000 single-family mortgages in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama were affected by Katrina and the ensuing floods.

The government-sponsored company, which uses bulk purchases of residential mortgages as an investment vehicle, announced this past October that it was working with the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency and the Mississippi Home Corp. to create loans for repairs and home purchases at about 1 percent below market rates.

Qualified borrowers may buy or repair homes in a federally designated Katrina disaster area. Borrowers also can use the loans to buy a house in a different area if they had a mortgage on a principal residence in a storm disaster area as of Aug. 28, the day before Katrina hit.

Gov. Haley Barbour, who was on hand for the announcement, called the money a "welcome injection of affordable mortgage credit'' to help the storm victims rebuild.

Barbour said Freddie Mac and the MHC should be congratulated "for their hard work and commitment to finance the restoration of so many Mississippi homes and neighborhoods.''
Patricia Cook, Freddie Mac's executive vice president of investments and capital management, said the mortgages are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The mortgages are available through participating lenders. (Click here for a list of participating lenders.)

MHC executive director Dianne Bolen said the agency was waiving its usual first-time homebuyer requirement and raising its cap on home repair loans from $15,000 to $150,000.
To be eligible for the new mortgages, borrowers can earn no more than 140 percent of their area median income, Bolen said. Cook said the mortgages should carry a 5.61 percent interest rate for about 350 Mississippi borrowers.

To find out more about the program, click here, or contact the Mississippi Home Corporation at (601) 718-4636.

Utility Assistance

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it was releasing a $12,466,278 block grant to Mississippi to help families in need pay their home energy bills. The funds are administered by the Administration for Children and Families through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The funding to Mississippi is part of an additional $1 billion in LIHEAP funding approved by President Bush Monday.

The bill reallocates mandatory funds appropriated for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and makes the funds available in 2006 instead of 2007. Half the funds will be spent under the block grant formula and the other half for emergency contingency funding. "These funds will make a positive difference for many low-income families in Mississippi," Secretary Leavitt said. "The Bush Administration is committed to helping people in need meet their increased home energy costs."

The additional funds result in a total of $3.1 billion nationwide already made available in 2006, including a total of $600 million in emergency contingency funding. In addition, the federal government has another $101 million that remains available for crises through the emergency contingency fund.

Each year, almost 5 million low-income households across the country receive LIHEAP assistance. LIHEAP helps eligible families pay for home heating and insulation in winter and cooling their homes in the warmer months. Individuals interested in applying for LIHEAP assistance should contact their local / state LIHEAP agency.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Governmental Editorial - CDC

I found this article highly interesting for medical professionals who might be interested in working a natural disaster. This team cites some very interesting observations and suggestions that could easily be implemented during disasters of a far lesser magnitude than Katrina - and in fact should be to gain proficiency in the practice.


It's in the CDC data base within the Preventing Chronic Diseases journal.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Home Depot Grants

Does your organization need skilled labor?
Do you need to train your volunteers even just a little to better assist in rebuilding?

Well, about 10 days ago, I wrote to Home Depot and Lowes to request special classes just for that purpose.

And while Lowes hasn't yet responded, Home Depot has. They won't necessarily incorporate this training into their normal weekly seminars, they do have a great program they call CommUnity Impact Grants Program From what I've read, it allows non-profit orgs to pay someone to train volunteers for community related projects.

AND - you can also request skilled volunteers to assist your efforts - so you kind of get 2 deals for the price of one.

The grants are for up to $3000.

Go to www.homedepot.com/impactgrants for more information.

To view the letter I wrote: