St. Bernard Project Expanding to Help Fishing Community

New Orleans, La. – St. Bernard Project Director Zack Rosenburg says the group has a four-part plan to not only get residents back in their homes, but to also make sure they're financially stable and emotionally healthy. A mental health and wellness clinic is expanding. Peer-to-peer counseling is being arranged. Outreach workers are being hired from the community, and a hiring program is starting for idle fishermen to build homes still needed after Hurricane Katrina.

"Now with this oil spill, we have an incredible workforce that is available. We have all these fishermen. Fishermen can do anything. And so we're looking for funds to be able to employ the fishermen to be able to do the residential rebuilding work to finish this recovery."

The project is expanding into Lower St. Bernard Parish to assist the fishing community that's now reeling from the oil spill.
George Barisich is president of the United Commercial Fishermen Association. He says fishermen are under tremendous pressure, and need help to get through the tough times ahead.

"It's the same feeling they had watching their houses under water. It'd be different if this was the only thing we're dealing with. This is four years of torment. You get to a point, either I'm going to give up, walk away or, man, how much more can I take? People start questioning themselves. How much more can I take?' And that's what we're worrying about."

Rosenburg says fishermen's wives are being sought for the peer-to-peer counseling program based on a model that proved a success after Nine-Eleven in New York.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming