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National Empowerment Center

Consumers Organizing for Recovery from Katrina (CORK)


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Representatives from the 3 consumer-run TA Centers and a number of consumer/survivor leaders from across the country, met today in teleconference and came up with the following steps for responding to the disaster.

We have named our group CORK, Consumers Organizing for Recovery after Katrina.

Immediate action:

Our first business will be to coordinate our efforts with SAMHSA's Emergency Response Center, SERC. We want CORK to be plugged in to the national relief effort. Thank you Susan Rogers for agreeing to write a letter to SAMHSA in which we want to emphasize the theme that we are experts in providing peer support to people in crisis.

  • We want to be included in any SAMHSA planning of how to meet the mental health challenges facing the people affected by Katrina (which at this point is nearly everyone in the country). We agree with the FEMA approach to trauma that the distress people experience, whether they have been labeled with mental illness or not, is largely normal responses to abnormal situations. we want the assistance to be culturally competent.

  • We want to find ways to provide immediate assistance to the people in the affected states who are in crisis by peer providers or specialists being federalized and sent to provide training to other peers to assist people. We want FEMA to find a way to pay peers to provide support in the affected states as they did in Oklahoma after the bombing and in New York after 9/11.

  • We also want to set up a directory of warmlines to make available to affected states and to states (such as Texas) dealing with large numbers of displaced persons.

  • It was also suggested that the national TA centers receive supplemental funding to improve their capacity to meet the challenge. It was also suggested that the TA centers provide a way to collect money just for Katrina relief.

  • Find a way for CMS to use Medicaid funding to pay for peer support

Alternatives 2005:

SAMHSA would like us to include attention to effects of Katrina at Alternatives 2005. Here are some ideas generated by the group:

  • Have a panel of consumers sharing how they are dealing with the disaster in their states as well as consumers who can speak of the aftermath of 9/11 and OK.

  • Hold a training institute with trauma experts coming in to provide first responder training.

  • Include responses to Katrina in the arts.

  • Hold a town meeting one night to discuss peoples' ideas of ways to continue to respond and for sharing experiences with providing and receiving help.

Long range:

We discussed ways to improve the capacity of peers across the country to respond to disasters, through FEMA or Red Cross type training or through setting up their own crisis/disaster plans. We also discussed the need to provide TA to Mississippi and LA to enable them to build a state wide groups. Oklahoma representative Carolyn Archer said she would be willing to help with such an effort.