Rebuilding after Katrina
USA Today's lead story for Wednesday naturally had to do with the two year anniversary of Katrina. The basic conclusion of the story is really no surprise: those who took responsibility and began rebuilding on their own have their homes and even their jobs and neighborhoods back. Those who chose to wait for the promised federal assistance are still waiting. Denise Thornton used her savings to rebuild. But she did a bit more than that:

Soon after the storm, Thornton sensed the government response would be slow. As workers rebuilt her home, she opened her door to neighbors. She persuaded the local cable company to run a single Internet line down the oak tree in her front yard and into her house. neighbors gathered at her home to access free wireless Internet.

She kept a three-ring binder in her living room filled with tips on navigating the complex maze of contractors and insurance claims. She brewed coffee. USA Today, 2A, Aug 29, 2007

And her efforts became a registered non-profit called Beacon of Hope, mowing the lawns of abandoned homes, rebuilding city parks, clearing debris and just being good neighbors.

The organization's guiding principle: If neighbors work together to rebuild and share resources, they will get things done faster and more efficiently. The

We experienced something similar when up to 29 tornadoes came through our area back in 2004. A neighboring town was completely leveled, our school was destroyed and thousands of homes were lost. We converted the church into a central meeting place, a generator was set up and meals were served to all who needed them. By the time Red Cross arrived, there was nothing for them to do. Everyone had shelter, food and water. And things are pretty much back to normal in Hallam, as well. In fact, despite being nearly wiped off the map in 2004, in 2007 they were able to send a team to Greensburg, KS, to help with their tornado devastation.

While our area and the Lakewood section of New Orleans has the obvious benefit of at least some level of affluence, it was their willingness to work together to rebuild their homes, businesses and neighborhoods which brought restoration to their towns. Even the Versailles area, home to thousands of Vietnamese nationals who fled the VietNam war is rebuilt. As the Reverend Vien The Nguyen, pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church says of their rebuilding efforts,

We believe that when you rely on someone else, you're at their mercy. USA Today, Ibid.

And that is true whether you are talking about rebuilding efforts after a disaster, education or any other government program. If you rely on them, you are at their mercy.