VIOLET (AP) - More than 1.1 million Americans have volunteered to help the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina, President Bush's recovery chief said Monday.
"As the rebuilding effort continues, volunteers will remain a critical source of hope and help in the Gulf, and I encourage more Americans to get involved, because the government cannot bring these communities back alone," Donald Powell said at a ribbon-cutting for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity's Camp Hope, a shelter providing housing for visiting volunteers.
Data on volunteers was released at the ceremony in the suburban New Orleans community of Violet.
The Corporation for National and Community Service said that in the first year after the storm, more than 550,000 Americans participated in the volunteer effort. The number has continued to rise, hitting 600,000 in the second year, despite less news media coverage of the area, the organization said.
The increase in volunteers the second year after the storm, which hit Aug. 29, 2005, shows the determination to rebuild the region, said David Eisner, CEO of National and Community Service. He, like Powell, expects the trend of volunteering in Katrina-ravaged areas to continue to rise.
"Particularly in New Orleans we should see a dramatic increase," Eisner said. "We're beginning to see housing become available and that will help draw volunteers."
Volunteers will be needed for the better part of the next decade as the recovery continues, said Jim Pate, executive director of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.
Powell and Eisner were here for the opening of a volunteer shelter that house up to 500 volunteers at a time. The shelter, in St. Bernard Parish, will house mainly volunteers constructing new houses.•