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NCC President Livingston dismayed
at Bush silence on Katrina rebuilding

New York City, January 25, 2007 The president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) expressed dismay that President Bush made no mention of the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

"I am dismayed and ashamed that our government has not made it a priority in word or deed to help those who are still trying to put their lives back together following the ravages of hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said the Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the NCC. 

"It is regrettable that barely a year after the worst natural disaster in memory in the U.S., President Bush would spend considerable time in his State of the Union address talking about priorities but did not mention one word about rebuilding the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans," said Livingston in a statement (complete text below).

Livingston also questioned whether President Bush has forgotten about promises he made in a televised speech from Jackson Square in the French Quarter, September 15, 2005.  The president, in another visit to New Orleans last August, said he would make good on the "Jackson Square" promises of federal aid to reopen schools, libraries and make federal funds available to residents.

"Rebuilding the Gulf Coast and New Orleans with a focus on justice for the residents and protecting the environment has been a priority for the" NCC, said Livingston.  "However, churches and others of good will cannot rebuild the Gulf Coast without the support and financial resources of the government--resources that were promised and are sorely needed."

The NCC set up a Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.  It has been studying the response to the disaster for more than a year.  Next month, at its meeting in Baton Rouge, the Special Commission will issue a report card on what has been delivered and what our Gulf Coast brothers and sisters still need.

"They deserve much more than what they are getting," said Livingston.  "At the very least, rebuilding the Gulf Coast must be a national priority."

The full text of Livingston's statement follows:

It is regrettable that barely a year after the worst natural disaster in memory in the U.S. that President Bush would spend considerable time in his State of the Union address talking about priorities but did not mention one word about rebuilding the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans.  I am dismayed and ashamed that our government has not made it a priority in word or deed to help those who are still trying to put their lives back together following the ravages of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Has President Bush forgotten the promises he made in his televised address from Jackson Square about reopening schools and libraries in New Orleans?  Has he forgotten about the people of the Lower Ninth Ward most of whom have still not been able to return and rebuild?  Has he neglected the residents of Mississippi and Alabama who are striving to rebuild their lives, communities and economies?

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast and New Orleans with a focus on justice for the residents and protecting the environment has been a priority for the National Council of Churches of Christ in USA.  Our member churches and other denominations continue to send money and volunteers to help.  One of our member communions has no congregations in Mississippi yet has made it a priority to help rebuild there.  And there are others of our member denominations that do not have members in that devastated part of the country but have made relief and reconstruction a priority because we recognize we are all members of Christ's body on Earth.  However, churches and others of good will cannot rebuild the Gulf Coast without the support and financial resources of the government--resources that were promised and are sorely needed.

The NCC established a Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast not long after the disaster unfolded.  The commission, which will meet in Louisiana again next month, will be issuing a report card on what government has promised and what it has delivered.

America must not forget its brothers and sisters still struggling to recover their lives following the devastating hurricanes.  They deserve much more than what they are getting.  At the very least, rebuilding the Gulf Coast must be a national priority.
 


NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, dwebster@ncccusa.org


 

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