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In Face of Continuing Katrina and Rita Needs Red Cross Adds Resources to Gulf Coast

ORLANDO, Fla., April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross announced today an extension of mental health assistance and other benefits to Hurricane Katrina and Rita survivors living in the hardest-hit areas of the southern Louisiana and south Mississippi. These funds, initially set aside to meet the post-disaster emerging needs of hurricane survivors, are being used to bolster existing individual assistance through recovery case management and enhance emotional support initiatives.

"More than two and a half years after landfall there are still tens of thousands of people living in travel trailers and mobile homes, thousands of people are on waiting lists for case managers, and hundreds of people call every week for emotional support services," said Russ Paulsen, executive director of the Red Cross Hurricane Recovery Program (HRP). "We had set aside some of what was given to us for needs that would emerge later in the recovery effort, but the reality is that in the hardest-hit areas, people's needs today are the same as they were months ago: emotional support, an expert navigator, advocate and resources to rebuild a life."

Specifically, the Red Cross announced the following actions:

-- An additional 87 staff have been added in southern Louisiana and south Mississippi to help those who still need to talk with experts in recovery planning and link to community, state, and federal resources. That brings the total Red Cross staff dedicated to the recovery effort in the two-state region to 147.

-- Additional resources have been made available to case managers whose clients are struggling on the road to recovery.

-- Enrollment in the Red Cross Emotional Support Program, which helps survivors offset costs of mental health or substance abuse treatment, has been extended through the end of May.

"We were pleased to see FEMA's announcement last week extending their funding for case management in some areas. Coupled with these additional resources we know more survivors will be able to move toward a safe and sustainable living environment," said Kay Wilkins, CEO of the Southeast Louisiana Red Cross Chapter.

While the Emotional Support Program is available to survivors now living nationwide, survivors wishing to access additional Red Cross case management resources must currently live within one of the following hardest hit parishes and counties of southern Louisiana and south Mississippi. Those areas are:


Acadia Parish, Allen Parish, Ascension Parish, Assumption Parish, Beauregard Parish, Calcasieu Parish, Cameron Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Evangeline Parish, Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Iberia Parish, Iberville Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Livingston Parish, Orleans Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Landry Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Mary Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Vermillion Parish, Washington Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, West Feliciana Parish


Covington County, Forrest County, George County, Greene County, Hancock County, Harrison County, Jackson County, Jefferson Davis County, Lamar County, Marion County, Pearl River County, Perry County, Stone County, Walthall County

Additionally, over the next few weeks the Red Cross HRP will announce grant recipients of $10 million for Emotional Support for Recovery initiatives in the form of new Behavioral Health Grants. These grants will go to community organizations and service providers in southern Louisiana and south Mississippi that directly address the mental health needs of their community by increasing capacity to help restore damaged infrastructure and aid in meeting the increased need of the mental health community.

Over the past 30 months:

-- More than 70,000 families have received recovery planning help from the Red Cross and other nonprofit and faith-based groups active in the recovery. But several thousand remain on waiting lists.

-- 6,300 families have received nearly $60 million in Red Cross recovery funds to help repair homes, get to a job, and obtain work-related supplies or job training. Other organizations active in recovery have given many millions more in financial support. Yet thousands of people who were underinsured or otherwise lack resources still need help.

-- More than 23,000 people of all ages have enrolled in the Emotional Support Program, but several hundred more call every week as they struggle with the burden of the slow recovery.

For more information on American Red Cross's entire response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, please visit

SOURCE American Red Cross
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