Report from the French Quarter

As of 11:30 AM Monday:

(from our friend Iray who manages the St. Bernard Parish Community Center)

I opted to hunker down in the French quarter 3 stories high , so far we are ok.  The eye passed 70 miles sw of us in all likelihood  the worst of the storm will be through by early afternoon, there likely will be areas in st Bernard and lower ninth ward that will flood. WE ARE FINE !!!

St Bernard and Lower Nine appear to have taken on water. I won’t really know much till the storm passes and we can re-enter the parish.

So far my cell phone is working, I am trying to keep the battery charged.



At this time, before the latest hurricane to threaten the Gulf Coast does whatever it’s going to do, we are preparing Plenty’s response, together with our Katrina response partners, some of whom are in New Orleans where they will ride out the storm and keep us posted with on-the-scene reports. A few of us have just returned from New Orleans where we participated in events commemorating Katrina, and visited with some of the families we have been helping. Some were back in their renovated homes; others were getting close to being able to get back. Others were still living in FEMA trailers. All have evacuated. Another Katrina-size storm could be devastating. We’re watching events closely. We are in a better position to respond than after Katrina, because we have a house down there (hopefully), and we know hundreds of people and other organizations and city officials who know of and respect the work Plenty has been doing. We’ll have our most current information here on the Plenty Blog. In order to return we’ll need new financial resources. Here’s the link to our donation page  where you can make credit card donations designated for “hurricane relief.” Thank you so very much. Here we go again.

New Orleans, Three Years Later

New Orleans, Three Years Later
By Jordan Flaherty, Left Turn
Posted on August 28, 2008, Printed on August 28, 2008

As headlines focus on party conventions and presidential running mates, the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina has been largely overlooked. Several organizations have released reports in the past week, however, offering a chance to to assess the impact of disastrous federal and state policy on the people of New Orleans. The reports examine the current state of the city; meanwhile, grassroots activists have plans to broadcast their message from the streets. For those people who have heard mostly uplifting stories about the city’s recovery, the facts on the ground may be shocking.

According to a study by PolicyLink, 81 percent of those who received the Federally-funded, State-administered Road Home grants had insufficient resources to cover their damages. The average Road Home applicant fell about $35,000 short of the money they need to rebuild their home, and African American households on average had an almost 35 percent higher shortfall than white households.

More than one in three residential addresses — over 70,000 — remain vacant or unoccupied, according to a report by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. While workers with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right project are working on overdrive to finish the first of their scores of planned houses in the notoriously devastated Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood overall ranks far behind other neighborhoods in recovery, with only 11 percent of its pre-Katrina number of households. The same report notes that since the devastation of the city, rents have raised by 46 percent citywide (much more in some neighborhoods), while many city services remain very limited — for example, only 21 percent of public transit buses are running.

Katrina Pain Index: New Orleans Three Years Later

Katrina Pain Index: New Orleans Three Years Later
Tuesday 26 August 2008
by: Bill Quigley, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast three years ago this week. The president promised to do whatever it took to rebuild. But the nation is trying to fight wars in several countries and is dealing with economic crisis. The attention of the president wandered away. As a result, this is what New Orleans looks like today.

0. Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant – compared to 116,708 homeowners.

0. Number of apartments currently being built to replace the 963 public housing apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the St. Bernard Housing Development.

0. Amount of data available to evaluate performance of publicly financed, privately run charter schools in New Orleans in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years.

.008. Percentage of rental homes that were supposed to be repaired and occupied by August 2008 which were actually completed and occupied – a total of 82 finished out of 10,000 projected.

1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in percentage of housing vacant or ruined.

1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in murders per capita for 2006 and 2007.

4. Number of the 13 City of New Orleans Planning Districts that are at the same risk of flooding as they were before Katrina.

Interview with Plenty’s Gulf Recovery Program Director

For more than two years Tony Sferlazza has been working in New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast helping the survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita pick themselves help and put their lives back together. Tony is a construction contractor from Pennsylvania who also works on Plenty projects at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Either of the following links will take you to the 20 minute interview recently conducted by independent filmmaker, Flux Rostrum. The youtube version has several interesting and positive comments by viewers.


[Following is an opinion from Hannan LeGarry- one of the foremost geologists in Nebraska/South Dakota. This opinion bolsters our case against the expansion of uranium mining near the Pine Ridge Reservation.]


Hannan E. LaGarry, Ph. D.
210 North Main Street, Chadron NE 69337


In 2007, Chadron Creek, a stream that supplies water to the city of Chadron, Nebraska, went dry for the first time in the citys’ history.  Subsequent study of the creek’s water flow rates by Chadron State College students suggested that normal amounts of water are flowing from the springs, but the water is disappearing into deeper alluvium or into fractures in the rock (Balmat & others 2008, Butterfield & others 2008). Following these observations, a Chadron State College graduate student began studying the widespread faults and lineaments of northwestern Nebraska using data collected by high-flying aircraft, satellites, and the space shuttle (Balmat & Leite 2008). These data, along with contributions from scientists from the Nebraska Geological Survey, the United States Geological Survey, the University of Nebraska School of Natural Resources, and the Upper Niobrara-White Natural Resource District, were presented in May 2008, at “Our Water, Our Future: a Town Hall Meeting.”  The consensus opinion of the presenters was that water shortages and declining water quality are real and worsening problems in northwestern Nebraska.(more…)

Plenty Belize Project A Success

November 27, 2007    The Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) announces the successful completion of a one year project entitled Garden-based Agriculture for Toledo’s Environment implemented by Plenty Belize. The project commenced on August 21st, 2006 and was completed on October 23rd, 2007. 

The cost of the project, a total sum of $49,086.00 BZE, was funded under PACT’s Small Grant Programme with the main objectives being to protect, maintain and increase the knowledge of the local communities about the biodiversity of species in and around Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary and to educate them of its value and the actions they can take to protect systems and ecosystems, including non-toxic, natural pest control.  

Four primary schools in the villages of San Antonio, San Pedro Columbia, Big Falls and San Marcos in the Toledo District participated in this project. Each school developed and maintained gardens, using organic agricultural techniques and utilizing the produce to support their school feeding programs which in turn alleviated malnutrition by making a nutritious supply of fresh food available to over 2,000 students in the four communities.  While doing so the students learned to produce vegetables and fruits for home and market with the least amount of impact on the environment. 

The Project was successfully implemented. Each of the four schools reaped the benefits of having an organic school gardens and as a result have their own organic gardens at their homes. According to Mr. Mark Miller, Executive Director of PLENTY Belize, there are approximately 55 organic home gardens within the 7 surrounding communities which is as a result of information sharing among community members. 

The Protected Areas Conservation Trust congratulates PLENTY Belize for successfully implementing the organic garden based project and for championing the cause for sustainable organic farming techniques in the Toledo District.

The Protected Areas Conservation Trust is a fund dedicated to providing assistance for the conservation of Belizeís protected areas and wildlife species.  For more information contact the Grants Programme Department at phone (501) 822-3637 or email: or visit the website at