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The destruction of lives caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has been the subject of much discussion within (and beyond) the adult literacy community.

As we move forward, how do we work with survivors of the hurricane, to hear what their needs - and abilities - are, to learn where help is needed and in what ways. Suggestions have been made about the necessity of utilizing resources to give evacuees access to education and training opportunities, as well as to educate one another about the causes of the disaster the subsequent responses to it, and, finally, to work towards legislative and policy changes that ensure significant changes in the conditions that led to the current disaster in the first place. All of this involves more than books, clothing, crayons and water bottles.

What do you think? How can focused efforts at intergenerational learning - to read the word and the world - be part of a larger effort that seeks to redistribute wealth and resources equitably to all?

What resources are you using - to assist evacuees, to work with learners outside the storm zone to decode the news, to learn about relief efforts, to get involved?

Janet Isserlis, September 17, 2005

December 3, 2005: at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting. Two compelling sessions, comprised of disaster researchers, New Orleans-based academics and others interested in the recovery. Much to learn.



August, 2007: A discussion has been ongoing on the - Poverty, Race, Women and Literacy list (to be archived here, soon, one hopes)

To follow some of the discussion posted to adult literacy electronic lists, go here for discussion on the AAACE-NLA list (you need to follow some links, log in and then scroll down to the postings about racism and literacy, to follow the thread - look for#3213 here. For discussion on the NIFL-POVRACELIT list go here and scroll up.

To add to the discussion here, once you are logged in, select edit and add your comments right here.

Subject: [NIFL-FAMILY:2154] Hurricane Rita and Galveston
Date: September 20, 2005 1:48:09 AM EDT

In September of 1900, Galveston was struck by an unnamed hurricane. At least 8,000 people died when a storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico covered the town, causing America's deadliest disaster. Now "Rita," the most recent Atlantic tropical storm, is expected to become a hurricane. The official forecast has the storm making landfall near Galveston, Texas.

To explain the vulnerability of Galveston, and why the 1900 storm caused such a disastrous loss of life, this story from the NIFL-recommended AwesomeStories links to primary sources from the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Rosenberg Library (in Galveston). It also features film footage (made by Thomas Edison's company) of a seawall (built after the 1900 storm) which was designed to prevent another catastrophe in the event of a direct hurricane hit.

To access the entire Galveston story, and review its hundreds of links, sign-up for an academic membership on the site's main URL. Academic memberships are free to educators, schools and libraries worldwide. [ Note: From e-mail correspondence with the Awesome Stories staff on September 22, 2005, we learned that this free academic membership is also available to students and practitioners in adult literacy programs. David J. Rosen ]

Carole Bos
Editor, AwesomeStories


In addition to the questions raised about the lack of response, loss of lives and livelihoods, a number of resources have been compiled by educators around the country. Some of these are very useful; others, perhaps not so much.

Greater New Orlean Community Data Center

Louisiana Speaks: A long-term community planning initiative of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. - Teaching for Change; scroll down to Enid lee - Hurricane Katrina in the Classroom; [(direct link]

Health Care After Hurricane Katrina The Praxis Project

on Katrina posted on ZNet

SABES southest resources

resources from Hands on English

Neighborhood Story Project

Unicef kits help displaced kids

2004 National Geographic article about the wetlands and pending risks

media literacy (from The Change Agent in the Classroom)

News coverage, blogs, journals and other media

From the San Francisco Chronicle Surviving Katrina

From The Nation

From The New York Times

From MSNBC - Rising from Ruin; an ongoing blog

From literacy educator Glynda Hull - a seven-part report from Houston

Still Standing : An EVC Documentary on Hurricane Katrina [from What Kids Can Do: "In this documentary, youth producers from the Educational Video Center put a human face to the stories of corruption and incompetence that jeopardize the lives and well being of Hurricane Katrina survivors six months after the storm—whether still living in New Orleans or relocated to New York City."]

Interactive graphic - what flooded when and from where by Times-Picayune contributors Dan Swenson and Bob Marshall (with thanks to Rachel Nicolosi for bringing it to light).

photo, essays, reflections



- photography of Chris Jordan, go to In Katrina’s Wake


Learn about some specific actions that adult literacy educators have taken. Go to AleFamilyLiteracyKatrinaAction

SUMMER, 2007: Join a national commemoration of the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29 - September 2

Voices from the Gulf "is a place where survivors of Hurricane Katrina can tell their stories, unfiltered, for the world to hear and see. Anyone can participate -- by signing up to videotape someone's story, or signing up to tell their own. The goal is to help people from all walks of life connect with those stories, in a real and direct way."

Katrina Recovery Job Connection DOL site

Read Moving Ideas' Progressive Policy and Action Guide

from Orion: "On the Range: Goodbye, New Orleans (It's Time We Stopped Pretending) The Bush administration has given New Orleans a 'quiet kiss of death' with its final Katrina budget package. Without the right federal help, claims bayou author Mike Tidwell, rebuilding is a waste of time and resources." [3] Everything New Orleans [4]


To learn about grassroots organizations providing help, see: [ - a compilation of grassroots organizations seeking support

Network for Good - another compilation of organizations

- The Greater New Orleans Foundation

- Grassroots/Low-income/People of Color-led Hurricane Katrina Relief; see also - Jordan Flaherty's Notes from inside New Orleans

SPOTLIGHT ON KATRINA: [Structuring Recovery Efforts to Help Low-Income Families,] Center for Law and Social Policy

Declaration on Disaster Recovery


Please add your questions here.

Research, Theory and Background Reading on Poverty and Racism and How it Affects Families

Please add references to online or hardcopy research, theory, or pertinent background reading here.

online archive: [The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank: Preserving the stories of Katrina, Rita and Wilma] uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the stories, images, and responses of the devastating 2005 hurricane season

Letter from a Birmingham Jail Dr. Martin Luther King, April 16, 1963

Media literacy, financial literacy: things are intertwined:

From the National Priorities Project: Katrina and Iraq War demonstrate misguided federal priorities - examine federal spending priorities in the face of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and the Iraq War. NPP offers a two-page overview of current federal spending policies and state level numbers on the cost of the Iraq War. (unfortunately, uses PDF files to delinieate state by state spending).

from Moving Ideas News: Many of the most vulnerable residents of the states hit by Hurricane Katrina were poor children and were disproportionately African American: [Child Poverty in States Hit by Hurricane Katrina]

Radical Reference - [Katrina resources]

New Orleans [IndyMedia]

From [Understanding Katrina: Perspectives from the Social Sciences] [Disasters and Forced Migration in the 21st Century By Anthony Oliver-Smith]

A New Reconstruction Civil Rights implications of Rebuilding the Gulf Coast

Organic Process - interviews, documentary film and resources; rebuilding in New Orleans

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