As a former resident of New Orleans, watching the approach of Gustav with horror, I want to remind people about the gendered aspects of disaster. Check out "Women in the Wake of the Storm: Examining the Post-Katrina Realities of the Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast," a report published in April by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. It recommends:
Make affordable housing a top priority. The safety of women and girls remain in jeopardy with each day that severe housing shortages go unaddressed.
Incorporate women in the rebuilding economy through non-traditional training and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. ... Providing women training in the skilled and technical trades would help increase their chances of earning a rate of pay that would allow them and their families some level of economic well-being. And buttressing that training with aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in hiring and pay would help to alleviate some of the difficulties women report in trying to gain access to fuller employment.
Increase the availability and quality of child care and schools.
Address both physical and mental health care needs, especially among the most needy.... Special attention should be given to women and girls whose Katrina experience has included domestic violence or sexual assault ...
Include a broad representation of women on decision-making bodies that address disaster recovery, and any future bodies formed for the purpose of pre-disaster planning.