Founded in January, 2006, Women of the Storm is a non-partisan, non-political alliance of Louisiana women whose families, businesses and lives were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Members, who are culturally, socially and economically diverse, are bound by their passion for their communities.
Initially the premise was a simple one: You cannot understand the conditions of metropolitan New Orleans and the Gulf Coast without seeing them for yourself. In January 2006, only 12 US senators and 25 members of the US House of Representatives had visited the site of the largest engineering disaster in the history of our country.
On its first trip to Washington DC with 130 women (January 2006), Women of the Storm extended a personal invitation to every member of the House and Senate to visit New Orleans and acquire the first-hand information required to shape intelligent policy decisions. During this visit, the group drew attention to needs for housing for all, safe levees and coastal restoration.
Within a few weeks of the January visit, a Congressional delegation of 36 members of the House of Representatives, organized by then-Speaker Dennis Hastert and then–Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, came to New Orleans. Several senators also made individual visits during that time period. Once they saw the magnitude of the devastation, leaders understood the issue better; most became advocates for the people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. In that spring, Congress approved dollars sufficient to fund the Road Home housing restoration program.
The Women of the Storm’s second trip to DC (September 2006), again with 130 women, was focused on Outer Continental Shelf revenue sharing, which was approved by Congress in December 2006.
In September 2006, the voters of Louisiana overwhelmingly approved the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund, an amendment to the state constitution to ensure that all money received from revenue sharing would be dedicated by law to coastal restoration and protection. Louisiana is the only state in America to have such a fund; Women of the Storm helped educate voters on its importance.
Partnering with Dillard, Xavier, Tulane and Loyola universities, Women of the Storm made an unsuccessful bid to hold a 2008 Presidential Debate in New Orleans.
In the summer of 2008, Women of the Storm was asked to present a platform for coastal restoration to the Democratic National Committee platform committee in Cleveland.
In August 2008, members of the group attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver, throwing out tiny footballs and advocating restoration of Gulf Coast wetlands, which are vanishing at a clip of one football field every 38 minutes. Women of the Storm were scheduled to fly to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul to deliver a similar message, but Hurricane Gustav closed the New Orleans airport.
Before the oil spill, Women of the Storm worked tirelessly with the state of Louisiana, the Environmental Defense Fund and other environmental groups to seek funding for coastal restoration.
The group has met with several Cabinet members who have traveled to New Orleans, as well as encouraged other Obama administration officials to understand our recovery and coastal restoration needs.
On the eve of the Saints’ appearance in Super Bowl XLIV, each member of Congress received by hand-delivery a small, colorful football, similar to those distributed at the Democratic Convention, with a tag urging “Be a Saint! Save Our Coast! Invest in America’s Future!”
On Day 92 of the oil spill, Women of the Storm unveiled the “Be the One” video campaign, created and funded by Women of the Storm and featuring an array of national celebrities committed to this cause. The electronic petition demanding funding for Gulf Coast restoration garnered 100,000 signatures in just over 100 hours.
Since its inception, Women of the Storm has conducted educational tours, offering data and personal stories to Congress (57 senators, 149 representatives), foundations (Robertson, Rockefeller, Kaiser, etc.), and businesses (Time Inc., Bloomberg, Google, YouTube, etc.).
Women of the Storm is not a lobbying organization. The mission is to draw the attention of Congress, media and opinion leaders to the needs of New Orleans, South Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast. The organization takes no position on specific legislation.
Women of the Storm has received generous support from individuals, foundations and corporations. Among other things, that support has enabled the group to charter an airplane for Washington trips.
Women of the Storm is led by a diverse group of 13 dedicated women who have met almost every Monday morning since January 2006 to set the agenda, projects and programs. We are an independent organization of independent-minded women!