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News :: Human Rights : Organizing
Hurricane Autonomous Workers Collective to send a Caravan of Relief Workers to Gulf Coast
04 Jan 2006
On January 28th, the Hurricane Autonomous Workers Collective (HAWC) will leave Portland to assist in relief efforts in the Gulf Coast. The HAWC is calling for supplies, donations and volunteers to support communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The HAWC was created by volunteers who recently returned from doing volunteer work in the Gulf Coast, whose work was cut short by the tragic accident of the People’s Free Space Frida Bus, which killed hurricane relief worker and People’s Free Space volunteer, Megan Perry.

Contrary to statements made by traditional relief organizations, there are years of rebuilding work ahead, and many more volunteers are needed.

“There is an incredible need for volunteers here. I have seen some contractors, but no FEMA workers or any other volunteer organizations except for The Red Cross…I know we’ve received donations of food and supplies from the Red Cross and the National Guard, but I don’t see them working like us, on the streets, in the houses, and on the roofs,” notes Matthew Franklin, a hurricane relief volunteer who rode the Frida Bus down to New Orleans.

The goal of Hurricane Autonomous Workers Collective is to raise awareness of the terrible conditions which still exist for hundreds of miles along the gulf coast that have been ignored by mainstream media, to help others who wish to volunteer in the gulf coast connect with the grassroots organizations that have filled the gaps left by FEMA and the Red Cross, and to support communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in their efforts to rebuild their neighborhoods and demand economic justice.

Sonia Acevedo, relief volunteer with the Frida Bus and HAWC coordinator notes, “What is most shocking, beyond the raw destruction, is the apparent class inequities that can be seen in a five minute car ride in the city; while the French Quarter and richer areas of New Orleans have been tarped, rehabilitated, and reinhabited, the poorer and more dramatically affected 8th and 9th wards remain ghost towns filled with debris and mold.”

The HAWC is planning a Hurricane Relief Caravan, destined to leave Portland for the Gulf Coast at the end of January. We are seeking volunteers willing to continue with the hurricane relief effort, doing home repair, clean up, tree removal and supply distribution. Both general and skilled labor is needed. We are seeking funding, supplies and tools for mold remediation and construction, as well as non-perishable food items, medical supplies, fuel, and transport vehicles.

Those who are interested in volunteering or supporting this project are welcome to a public planning meeting at the People’s Free Space, Thursday, Jan 5th, at 5pm and are invited to a video showing and slide show presentation at the People’s Free Space on Wednesday, January 11th, at 7pm, where relief volunteers who traveled down south with the Frida Bus will be giving accounts of their trip, the situation in the Gulf Coast and answering questions.

People’s Free Space volunteer Alec Aman comments on the current situation in the Gulf Coast, “It’s unbelievable to see the complacency of federal agencies and large nonprofit relief organizations in the profit taken from forced evictions and proposed mass bulldozing of homes. It is critical that we support grassroots groups working in poor neighborhoods that are getting people back in their homes, who aren’t getting help from anywhere else”

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