Indigenous communities across areas of Louisiana hit hardest by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike still remain in dire need of services. In United Houma Nation Principal Chief Brenda Dardar Robichaux' latest dispatch, she recounts the continuing problems plaguing coastal tribal communities and how the federal response has not been sufficient. As Chief Robichaux explains:
Each week of our recovery period brings new problems and new challenges. One month after hurricanes Gustav and Ike has had an impact on our communities, our current dilemma is to find adequate housing for our people. Although FEMA has offered vouchers for temporary emergency housing, this does little good. With no available rentals and hotel rooms taken up by representatives of the oil and gas industry, people have no where to turn. Our families cannot leave the area because of their jobs and because of their children's need to return to school. Thus, we have tribal citizens living in storage containers, tents, homes with a considerable amount of wind damage and most frequently in small homes with multiple families. FEMA needs to do more!
Many families along the bayou communities earn their living in the traditional lifestyle of fisherman. Where most people live check to check, fishermen live catch to catch. With the high cost of fuel, ice and supplies, along with the extremely low price they are being paid for their catch and the influx of imported seafood, it is very difficult for our fisherman families to earn a living. It will be quite sometime before they will be able to recover from the damaging effects of hurricane Gustav and Ike.
In some cases, the flooding and wind damage was worse that it was from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; for others this year's storms have made their ongoing struggle to recover since 2005 even more brutal. Before Gustav, some people were still living in FEMA trailers. Others, over the past three years, had waded through state and federal bureaucracy to try to apply for funding to rebuild or elevate their homes, only to be turned away and left to confront the wrath of another storm.
(Photo from United Houma Nation website)