A “care package” from NPRA often elicits the question, “ Do I have to give it back?” from an incredulous foster child (NPRA staff member's daughter pictured in order to protect identity of foster children).Our Emergency Services provide disaster relief for tribes adversely affected by environmental emergencies. When disaster assistance is needed, the NPRA program is quick to respond to the tribes within and beyond our regular service area.
The physical environment on the reservations we support is often harsh, giving rise to a wide range of environmental disasters such as floods, forest fires, blizzards, ice storms, and more. Some communities also experience acute or chronic contaminated-water emergencies. In the United States, 90,000 Native Americans are homeless and 40% of Native Americans live in substandard, overcrowded housing. The typical wait time for tribal housing assistance is three years or more.
When unexpected weather or environmental emergencies arise, our Disaster Relief service helps our reservation Program Partners assist communities in need and families who have been displaced.
NRPA also assists homeless shelters on the reservations, along with shelters for the aged, disabled, veterans and others, as well as children in trauma.
PWNA has responded to emergencies for tribes outside our normal service area as well, including the Bad River Tribe in Wisconsin, the United Houma Nation in Louisiana, and Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina.
Bad River Tribe
Impact on Tribe: On July 11-12, 2016, heavy rains fell in Northern Wisconsin, leading to widespread flooding. The Bad River Tribe in Ashland County was one of eight counties for which the state made disaster declarations. Approximately 1,500 residents on the Bad River Reservation were affected by the disaster, most of them living in the four main communities of New Odanah, Diaperville, Birch Hill and Frank’s Field. About 590 homes were damaged or destroyed. Roadways were washed out, making for difficult travel, and utilities were disrupted. Many homes were without electricity, and residents were under order to boil water for home use and consumption. Some propane tanks were damaged or washed away, and while natural gas was turned back on for residences, restoration was slow due to the need for individual home inspections prior to use. Overall, the U.S. Census reports 33% of families on the reservation are impoverished, but this climbs to 48.5% among families with children under 18 and to 66% among families with children under age 5.
Aid Requested: On July 18, emergency aid was requested in the form of staple foods and cleaning supplies to assist the families with clean up and loss of food supplies due to power outages.
Disaster Response: We coordinated delivery of the requested aid to the Bad River Community Center, Odanah, Wisconsin, providing food and cleaning supplies worth over $120,000 in the 66 pallets provided from PWNA’s Arizona and South Dakota distribution centers:
• more than 100,000 ready-to-eat meals shipped
• almost 60,000 pounds of cleaning supplies shipped, including bleach, wipes, soap and sanitizers, along with emergency blankets and personal hygiene items
United Houma Nation
Impact on Tribe: Severe storms occurred in Louisiana on August 11, 2016, leading to widespread flooding. Residents of the United Houma Nation are included in the FEMA response to the disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana. Gov. Edwards traveled to affected areas and saw “the destruction caused by this unprecedented flooding.” Some roads were closed and families were displaced, affecting up to 250 tribal citizens, and resulting in loss of homes, vehicles and personal effects for some. The Houma Nation is connected by bayous and canals along the southeastern coast of Louisiana that once enabled waterways living for their people. Boat travel between some parishes is no longer an option due to the effects of coastal erosion that has left many of the waterways unsafe or impassable.
Aid Requested: On August 19, emergency aid was requested in the form of water, nonperishable food, personal hygiene items and cleaning products.
Disaster Response: $1,200,000 worth of food and cleaning supplies in 84 pallets:
• Over 36,000 pounds of food shipped, including tuna, MREs (ready-to-eat meals), peanut butter, soda, crackers and energy drinks
• More than 86,000 pounds of cleaning supplies shipped, including bleach, wipes, soap, sanitizers, latex gloves, trash bags and buckets, along with emergency and baby blankets, personal hygiene items and over-the-counter health products such as ointments and bandages
Impact on Tribe: In October 2016, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina was severely devastated by flooding related to Hurricane Matthew. The tribal members were evacuated to shelters. “Families were left homeless or without electricity, and businesses were destroyed… Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin said that due to bursting dikes and dams, about 50,000 people were affected, even though the hurricane had weakened to a Category 1 by the time it hit the state” of North Carolina.
Aid Requested: On Oct. 11, emergency aid was requested in the form of cleaning supplies and personal hygiene kits, to immediately assist families with clean up and displacement from their homes.
Disaster Response: $654,716 worth of supplies, including all 144 of the gaylord pallets:
• 25,313 pounds of food shipped, including meals ready-to-eat (MREs) and snacks
• 82,000 pounds of supplies for cleaning and personal hygiene shipped
Service category: Emergency (see other Emergency service pages: Winter Boxes and Winter Fuel.)
Here are a few examples of how the NPRA Emergency service touches the lives of Native Americans: