Stories of rebuilding New Orleans

Readers Digest tells the stories of the people who are still, four years after Katrina, rebuilding New Orleans.

Included is the story of the Bishop of Louisiana, The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins.

Watching TV coverage of the scene inside the Convention Center, he saw a black woman holding a sign: “I am an American too.” He went onto the patio alone as helicopters streamed across the sky. “I was near despair, thinking I did not have what it takes to respond to the human need in my city,” he says. “I began crying.”

Then he told himself, My job is to make the comfortable aware of the powerless. Jenkins started working the phones with national church leaders, seeking money for the worst — hit areas.

Six weeks later, he returned to his dry house on St. Charles Avenue. Driving through ruined neighborhoods, he saw that the city’s health care system had collapsed and people needed shelter. He raised the salaries needed for a pediatrician and a nurse at a walk-in clinic, guided the church in distributing food and clothing, and launched an emergency program to build houses for low-income residents. He has led the effort to build and sell 13 homes; 17 more are under construction.

In April, with the city poised for a crackdown on the homeless population, which doubled after Katrina, Jenkins raised his voice with black community activists to oppose an ordinance that would have mandated arresting anyone who refused to go to a shelter. The council backed down. “We have a moral obligation,” he insists, “to individuals who have fallen through the cracks.”

Read the rest here.

Past Posts