I am continuing my journey on the national level and learning more and more each time we have a meeting. As you know from my last email, I submitted our community case study to the panel. We have also been looking at another community story as a possible case study. We have been in search of a natural disaster that in turn became a chemical disaster. I had the opportunity to hear of a community story that has been so very close to my heart and I hope to meet with this community in person very soon to see how we might be of help.
We all heard about the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina - what we have not heard discussed is the manmade disasters made through extremely poor decision making during the crisis. As the waters began to rise, toxins from industry and landfills began to float through the neighborhoods and a decision was made to get rid of it by taking the toxic waste to an old landfill near a Federal Nature Preserve on the outskirts of the city. This old landfill was never lined and in no way prepared for toxic waste. I did not find out until my conference call yesterday from the federal agencies on the panel that EPA, OSHA etc... were released from any regulation as a part of the disaster response therefore no care had to be taken with regard to post planning and care of surrounding communities. Now a Vietnamese community has been devastated due to the toxic leaching of this landfill. This community lives down stream of this site and uses the canal that runs along side of the nature preserve for their fishing and watering of their gardens. This community is very ill and is dealing with long term and generational health problems as a result of this disaster that did not need to take place!!! I have submitted this story to CNN because I feel it is due national coverage but have yet to hear. If you have contacts in this area, please let me know.
May our eyes as a nation continue to open - may we truly embrace change to do whatever it takes to care for our neighbors. And, at this very moment - may we do the right thing as we give care to the Haitian people.
My yard is your backyard and I will never forget it!!