August 30, 2010; Source: The News Star | The Northeast Louisiana Chapter of the Red Cross, the United Way’s 2-1-1 program, the United Way of Northeast Louisiana, and the Foodbank of Northeast Louisiana have lessons to share from their Katrina experiences.

The Red Cross representative quoted in Monroe, La.’s The News Star says that Katrina taught that the Red Cross “can’t operate in silos.”

The Foodbank spokesperson observed that, “preparedness is key,” although the Red Cross person noted that “No amount of planning could have ever prepared for Katrina.” According to the Foodbank rep, the demand for its services started before the storm hit due to the migration of people trying to escape the hurricanes, required the organization to have enough to “sustain itself for a solid week without requiring aid from state or federal organizations . . . [because] outside help may be a week or so away.”

And of course, such extra work must often be placed atop existing commitments of critical importance to those they serve. The Foodbank, for example, had one program, Adopt-a-Senior, serving 1,435 people who weren’t going to be able to forego the assistance they needed while the organization provided emergency disaster relief services. All advice well taken, but we hope the press reaches down to truly grassroots nonprofits and churches to get the lessons they learned not only in disaster relief, but in dealing with the larger organizations such as the United Way and the Red Cross.—Rick Cohen