NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Six years after Hurricane Katrina, poor and low-income residents, African-Americans, immigrants, indigenous populations, and other at-risk communities living along the Gulf Coast report that the storm's devastating effects continue to be felt. The need for environmental restoration, affordable housing, employment opportunities, the right to return for displaced persons, and access to quality healthcare and education remain, and have been exacerbated by new disasters including Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and the BP oil disaster.
"The disasters that have devastated the Gulf Coast over the past six years - whether natural or manmade - have created the need to rebuild anew, and grassroots organizations have been taking the lead, working to create a just and sustainable future for the region. However, Federal assistance is a must if the region is to indeed be made 'whole' as promised by both this and the previous administrations," states Stephen Bradberry, Executive Director, Alliance Institute, and Advisor, Gulf Coast Fund.
Founded in the wake of Katrina, the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health (http://gulfcoastfund.org) is a community-led philanthropy focused on long-term social and environmental sustainability for the region. The Fund provides grants and support to over 200 organizations on the ground in all five Gulf states and works closely with community leaders, creating programs and opportunities for them to forge networks and strengthen relationships. In turn, these leaders are playing a decisive role in Gulf Coast restoration, galvanizing local residents, heightening the accountability and responsiveness of elected officials, and working to mobilize national support for Gulf Coast renewal.
"We must continue to demand governmental accountability on all levels - local, state, regional and national - and restore full civic participation in the region," states Jaribu Hill, Executive Director, Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, and Advisor, Gulf Coast Fund.
BP Disaster: Community Leaders Call for Legislation
Gulf Coast communities continue to experience economic and environmental problems due to the April 2010 BP drilling disaster, and reports of severe oil-related health issues continue to climb. According to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, almost 500 miles of coastline from Louisiana to Florida remains contaminated. Activists from across the Gulf are calling on Congress and the Administration to support the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011, legislation introduced in the Senate last month that would require 80% of Clean Water Act penalties levied against BP for the drilling disaster to go towards ecological and economic restoration of the Gulf. "While the RESTORE act is a good start, we also need legislation to create a Regional Citizens Advisory Council to give coastal communities a seat at the table as oil and gas development continues in the Gulf," notes Aaron Viles, Deputy Director, Gulf Restoration Network, and Advisor, Gulf Coast Fund. "The Gulf Coast is a national treasure, and it's urgent that we move forward with restoration immediately," Viles declares.
SOURCE Gulf Coast Fund