During the chaos of Hurricane Katrina and in the devastation that followed, Malik Rahim stood his ground, demanding justice for those left behind. He forced the media to recognize the failures of the government and the racial and social inequalities long plaguing the Gulf Coast that were exposed by the hurricane. Mr. Rahim has become a leading organizer in rebuilding his community in New Orleans. We invite you read a recent update we received from Common Ground Relief and their continued work 10 years after Katrina.

commongroundwebhomeIt is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina forced a mass exodus from a great American city. Many have returned, many have made New Orleans their new home, many have remained in the cities where they evacuated to and others have not been able to rebuild or be made whole. For all, this man-made disaster (the point that is all too often glossed over) has irrevocably changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

In the past 10 years over 45,000 volunteers from around the world have supported Common Ground Relief’s work and propelled our programming forward. We are so grateful for the continued generosity and support that you and others have given to our city and residents.

Common Ground Relief was created out of the determination to provide immediate post-disaster support and has evolved into helping create vibrant, sustainable and resilient communities.

The Common Ground Health Clinic continues to thrive. The original women’s shelter, now the New Orleans Women’s Shelter, is a highly respected community service provider. Our legal partner, The Louisiana Civil Justice Center, provides a full array of free legal assistance from staff attorneys five days a week to residents throughout the area and we continue to send law school volunteers to assist them in their efforts.

Common Ground Relief continues to focus on resiliency issues, especially concerning the renovation of older homes throughout the city, coastal marsh restoration and replanting of forest canopy, our wetlands education programming for K-12 students and job creation for locals. Through our Common Ground Relief Wetlands program, volunteers from around the country assist us in restoring the fragile and damaged coastal wetlands. Through the volunteers’ hard work Common Ground Relief operates the Wetlands Restoration Station providing plant material and ‘boots on the ground’ for local, state and federal agencies in six of Louisiana’s southern parishes from Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico.


For many watching the news or visiting you may be shocked by the lack of progress in rebuilding one of the most heavily devastated areas of the Ninth Ward. The decision was made by former Mayor Ray Nagin not to spend any FEMA funds for rebuilding in the Lower Ninth Ward until the Surge Barrier at Lake Borgne was completed. Mayor Mitch Landrieu adhered to this policy when he was elected in 2010. The Surge Barrier was not completed until June 2012.

In October 2014, the new fire station opened and the community center opened in May 2015. Work has started on rebuilding roads and underground drainage systems. The new high school opens in January 2016. Less than one-half of the pre-Katrina population has returned and the large elderly population that existed in the Lower Ninth Ward pre-Katrina is almost completely displaced. Contractor fraud and the installation of contaminated drywall continue to plague thousands of homeowners. However, the area continues to have the highest percentage of home ownership of any neighborhood in the City of New Orleans. There is hope as returning residents are dedicated to attracting new residents who are interested in buying a lot and building a home.

Common Ground Relief’s impact can be directly attributed to the energy, optimism and commitment of individuals, families and groups from schools, colleges/universities, businesses, and civic and religious groups that have given their time, money and hard work. WE GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT AND EFFORT.

We also want to acknowledge and thank the Common Ground Relief co-founders, Scott Crow, Sharon Johnson and Malik Rahim. Your vision has served as a catalyst for change that continues to transform neighborhoods in the Greater New Orleans area and beyond.

On behalf of Common Ground Relief’s Board of Directors and Staff, we want to thank you for all you have done, are doing and will continue to do to help preserve the culture, history, environment and future of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast.