New Haven helps Hurricane Katrina families
(2/7/2006) -NEWS RELEASE-
BEFORE STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS: MAYOR & SUPERINTENDENT TO PRESENT CHECKS TO TWO LOCAL HURRICANE KATRINA FAMILIES
New Haven: Half an hour before Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. presents his 13th State of the City Address in the Aldermanic Chambers, he and Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Reginald Mayo, will make a special presentation to two local families who evacuated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Mayor DeStefano and Dr. Mayo will present each family with a check for just more than $2,450 – with the funds earmarked as rent money.
The checks are made available as a result of a September fundraising drive in the New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) and the subsequent creation of the Caring Kids First account- formed in partnership with NewAlliance Bank. The fundraising effort included school-held penny drives, raffles and a regatta race at the sound school. In addition, basketball teams at Hillhouse and Hyde canvassed major intersections the weekend of September 3rd.
“Tonight we are talking about and evaluating the state of the city and doing right by these families says a lot about the State of New Haven, said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. In a matter of days after Hurricane Katrina, New Haven vowed to accept 100 families from New Orleans, mobilized an Emergency Operations Center, handled 1,000 calls, set up an evacuation service center, and opened up a warehouse for donated supplies. “New Haven response to Hurricane Katrina was a real measure of this community,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr.
NHPS has already given a total of $7,500 to the five families from New Orleans which has children attending the NHPS. The total amount raised through the Caring Kids first fund is $12,500.
One of the women at the presentation was Zulema Zuniga. She fled New Orleans in August, 8 days after the hurricane hit, stayed for awhile with a relative in Houston before Hurricane Rita forced them from that City. She has two children - one is a senior at James Hillhouse High School and the other is attending Brio Academy of Cosmetology on Orchard, earning a beautician's license. Ms. Zuniga has been told by FEMA that her home in New Orleans is habitable and has declared her ineligible for rent assistance as of March 1. She has appealed, noting that her son has been bounced through four school systems since the Hurricane and when she returned to New Orleans recently she found "the home in shambles, a roof missing, windows blown off and mold and mildew stains."
The other woman present was Teresa Morrison - who lives in West Haven – and has two children – one who is in 10th grade at the Sound School. She works at Yale Dining