Today, Aug. 24, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that New Orleans has been selected as one of 10 American cities that will receive special attention from a new presidentially-appointed group called Resilience AmeriCorps.
A pilot program, the idea is to shine a light on vulnerable communities and help them become more resilient to the effects of climate change, according to today’s press release. This will build upon the president’s Climate Action Plan, and was developed in response to a recommendation made by the state, local, and tribal leaders’ Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to further commitments to poorer communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.
In real terms: When one is too poor to evacuate during a disaster, or too poor to move to a higher location, then one is vulnerable. When one has to choose between feeding her children that night or spending even bus fare to get out of town to a safe location, she is vulnerable.
“We have battled more than our fair share of challenges over the last decade,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This city defines what it means to be resilient, and it is an honor for New Orleans to participate in the President’s first-ever Resilience AmeriCorps initiative. We have made great strides in the last decade since Hurricane Katrina, but there is much more work to be done. We are thrilled to have these AmeriCorps members help us in our effort to achieve this goal.”
“There is perhaps no more appropriate moment than the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of Katrina and New Orleans’ subsequent recovery to place a priority on building resilience in our communities,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation.
As one of the original cities chosen to partner with 100 Resilient Cities – pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation – the New Orleans Resilience AmeriCorps members will be crucial in implementing a strategy to help NOLA’s most vulnerable members, working in neighborhoods with both high environmental risks and high percentages of poverty. The members will also engage the public in important discussions regarding climate change and will coordinate necessary volunteer efforts.
The Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will provide subject-matter expertise and counsel to New Orleans as part of this program, too.
This week the city is commemorating the Aug. 29, 2005 hit from Katrina and the flooding that followed, the dramatic losses of life and the slow response by multiple parties in an effort to rescue, recover and rebuild.
It is hoped that this announcement today is one of several initiatives that will help ensure that folks of the Lower 9th Ward, for example, won’t be left high and dry should another Katrina strike the Gulf coast.
Numerous citywide events are taking place to honor the memory of those lost, while also feting the spirit of this indomitable city and its people.
The federal agency that administers AmeriCorps is Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Cities of Service (@citiesofservice), a national non-profit that promotes citizen engagement while helping with disaster preparedness, is another partner in this effort. See more info about city events at Katrina10.