Katrina Hits Black Belt; Black Mayors Struggle for Support to Deal with Devastation, Serve the Citizens Relocated to Smaller Cities and Rebuild Communities

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Katrina not only hit New Orleans, but the fall out effects have devastated smaller towns and communities. Many of these towns have Black Mayors. The National Conference of Black Mayors is providing support and asking that these towns and communities are not overlooked by the media.

National Conference of Black Mayors, Inc. reaches out to help as Black mayors struggle for support to deal with devastation, serve the relocated citizens and rebuild communities.

Alabama and Florida, especially Mississippi and Louisiana, are in the middle of America's Black Belt; these are the states that are reeling from the massive devastation of the recent hurricane, Katrina. Cities and towns with major Black populations have been destroyed. "It's just like a bomb hit us," says Mayor Jamie Mayo, Mayor of Monroe, Louisiana, and president of the Louisiana Conference of Black Mayors. "We need everything -- from money to buy food and supplies for those persons who left their homes with nothing, to extra school rooms and teachers to teach the children of the persons who had to leave New Orleans and come to nearby towns," continued Mayor Mayo.

Monroe (LA), the third largest city in Louisiana with a Black Mayor, has a population of 55,000; and even though Monroe was not hit as hard as New Orleans, it has just gained approximately 3000 new residents as a result of the storm. Mayor Clarence Hawkins of Bastrop, LA reports that his small town of 14,000 residents has doubled in size. "We have to find a way to house and feed these people immediately; the next step is to deal with unemployment," said Mayor Hawkins.

Located in Atlanta, GA, the National Conference of Black Mayors, Inc. [NCBM], a non-profit organization that provides technical assistance to the nations 564 African American mayors, has been trying to locate its 174 member mayors in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana to determine what happened to them and the citizens of the towns they represent. "We are just getting through to our mayors and we are going to make a way to help our brothers and sisters who have been rendered homeless. Now is definitely the time for all Americans to come to the aid of our country," says Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, President of the National Conference of Black Mayors and Mayor of Inglewood, CA.

A NCBM Katrina Relief Fund has been created, by the National Conference of Black Mayors, to provide hands-on relief to the displaced victims of the hurricane. "We encourage people of concern to make their tax deductible contribution to NCBM," said Mayor Dorn. Our Mayors are in the middle of the storm, we know where the people are and what is needed to save our cities, provide needed service to our citizens, and rescue our people." Mayor Dorn has personally contributed $10,000 to the NCBM Katrina Relief Fund. Calls are coming into NCBM from professional athletes such as Joe Horn (New Orleans Saints) and Eddie Haratwell, (Atlanta Falcons); entertainers including Vivica Fox and Erykah Badu; and Tommy Dortch, (former Chairman of the Board of 100 Black Men of America) to name a few. "We could use some help from major corporations like John Deere, Home Depot and Lowes," said Vanessa Williams, the Executive Director of NCBM.

After assessing those member mayors from the states affected by Katrina, approximately 950,000 citizens from their respective communities are in need. "Since we are still unable to reach many of our mayors, I am sure that these totals will escalate during the coming days, added Ms. Williams.

For further information about how to give to the National Conference of Black Mayors, please contact 404-765-6444.

Contact: Bunnie Jackson-Ransom

     404-505-8188 / 404-226-8000 cell

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