BILOXI, Miss. -- A crowd of about 50 people attended a Katrina Helping Hands Workshop, held March 8 at the Gulf Coast Convention Center . Volunteer Agency Liaisons (VAL) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) organized the event to address various personal recovery issues facing occupants of FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes.
The workshop gathered representatives from various groups including the WIN Job Center, Mississippi Regional Housing Authority, Mississippi Home Corporation, Project Recovery and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). The smaller crowd allowed panel participants the chance to address questions from every audience member and speak in a more close-knit environment. Major concerns expressed by the crowd were housing, employment and credit counseling.
"We just hope that the resources gathered here will greatly benefit the individuals in attendance,"said Essie "Pete"Johnson, VAL special projects officer and coordinator of the Katrina Helping Hands Workshops. "We want people to have the information to help them improve their quality of life. Hopefully this workshop will do that."
People from MEMA and FEMA Applicant Services were available to discuss individual cases and offer occupants extra guidance to programs most suitable to their needs. VAL staff provided Vietnamese and Spanish language translations.
In addition to the workshop at the convention center, Katrina Helping Hands have reached out to neighborhoods in Gautier and D'Iberville. More are planned to target other sites along the Gulf Coast .
The following organizations participated in the workshop:
- WIN Job Center www.mdes.ms.gov/wps/portal
- Mississippi Development Authority grants www.mississippi.org/
- Gulf Coast Community Action Agency 1-228-896-1409
- Mississippi Home Corporation www.mshomecorp.com/firstpage.htm
- USDA Rural Development www.rurdev.usda.gov/ms/
- Project Recovery www.projectrecovery.ms.gov 1-866-856-3227
- Mississippi Center for Justice www.mscenterforjustice.org/begin.html
- Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater New Orleans , serving Louisiana and Mississippi www.cccsno.org/
- Mississippi Protection and Advocacy www.mspas.com/mission.htm , 1-228-539-1793, 1-601-278-7288
- Mississippi Emergency Management Agency www.msema.org
- American Red Cross
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.