September 2005

A Message from the President of APA

An open letter to those impacted by Hurricane Katrina and to the members and friends of the American Planning Association:

Shock, sorrow and determination are the three words that best describe the feelings that our members have expressed to me and to each other since the devastation of our Gulf Coast communities and regional infrastructure by Hurricane Katrina. This was the largest natural disaster to face our nation in our lifetime. Most of us cannot begin to imagine the mixture and depth of feelings ... rage, despair, panic, and hope ... that only those who are going through the loss and personal and professional displacement of this disaster can truly comprehend.

There has been a wide range of opinion regarding what America should do in the aftermath of this disaster, much of it swayed by emotion and punditry. As a professional planner and human being, I believe I speak for the organization when I say:

  • We do not give up on our cities.
  • We do not give up on our rural communities.
  • We do not give up on our people.
  • We do not give up on our culture(s).
  • We do not discriminate in our efforts to help plan and rebuild.

To those of you who have been touched by this disaster, or whose family and friends have been affected, we want to express our sorrow at your losses, and our determination to help you rebuild your communities. We know that the first priorities are life, safety and health, and that once significant progress at meeting these immediate needs is achieved, the work of the professional and citizen planner can truly begin. The American Planning Association pledges our assistance in helping you meet these immediate and subsequent needs.

To the members and friends of the American Planning Association, many of you have been communicating with me and with each other with ideas on what to do to help, and I encourage you to keep those ideas coming.

Most immediately, we can give. We can donate cash through legitimate charitable organizations and the APA Foundation. Through APA we can purchase for donation tools such as computers and peripheral equipment to help our professional and citizen planner peers in their efforts to reorganize, plan and redevelop. We can volunteer our personal time and professional capabilities through pro bono efforts in our capacity as "change agents." Here on APA's website, you can locate information on a wide variety of ways to become involved in a manner that is truly relevant to what we as planners do ... empower and assist people in making great communities happen.

APA is coordinating with our friends in the design professions, and with others involved in building quality communities to ensure effectiveness in providing the right assistance, to the right locations, at the right time.

Individually, we can offer love, respect, hope, determination and assistance in the weeks, months, and years to come. I hope you will join me in offering the above, whether personally, through your place of worship or community, or through the coordinated efforts of the American Planning Association.

With sincere hope and commitment,

David M. Siegel, AICP
American Planning Association