Katrina Still Hitting Hard In The Vietnamese Community

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is a good article about the Vietnamese American community down South after Katrina - some who've been able to stay afloat, and others, compounded by the recession, still trying to make ends meet:

Kaitlin Truong, who leads the local group Asian Americans for Change, said many of the Asian employees lost their jobs at the casinos because of the recession. The skyrocketing insurance rates make it hard to open a business in East Biloxi.

"Many of the small businesses on the Point have not come back and may never come back because of the obstacles in rebuilding there. Many of the Vietnamese shrimpers are struggling," said Trinh Le, community empowerment coordinator at the Hope Community Development Agency, a group that has helped rebuild East Biloxi since Katrina.

Tung Banh, who works for the Catholic Charities' Migration and Refugee Center in Biloxi, said a large percentage of the young Vietnamese men are forgoing working in the seafood industry that employed their parents in Vietnam and now in Biloxi, Instead they are training to become welders and finding higher wages in shipbuilding on the Coast.

Peter Nguyen worked in the seafood industry for 15 years and still helps the fishermen. NAVASA is looking into ways to reduce the insurance costs on shrimp boats and testing nets made of a lighter material that save on fuel costs. The price for these new nets is double the cost of what the fishermen are using now, so Nguyen said they are testing them on one boat to see how it pays off.
I think if anything, just making sure that the Vietnamese community doesn't get lost in the shuffle - and especially now that Katrina doesn't ring as loud on a lot of people's radar - at least part of the solution and hopefully will help the community revitalize itself.