Once again, disaster has struck in our own backyard, but I don't expect to see aid flooding in, so to speak, from other nations. New Orleans appeared to have escaped the worst effects of Hurricane Katrina until two of the levees broke, flooding an estimated 80% of the city. Since New Orleans is built in a huge bowl-shaped depression, the levees were necessary to keep out the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain.
Animal and human bodies swirl in the floodwaters, while tree trunks and downed power lines obstruct rescue operations... but nothing seems to deter looters, nor the rioters who took hostages inside a prison. The tens of thousands of people who took refuge in the Superdome are being forced to evacuate by the rising waters, lack of air circulation, and overwhelmed facilities. There is hardly any drinkable water anywhere in the city, no electricity for millions in the area, and it may be months before power is fully restored.
Meanwhile, 30-foot waves slammed into Biloxi MS, destroying its power grid and sewage systems. Floods engulfed parts of Alabama, destroying homes, shipyards and businesses. The number of people who were left homeless and nearly helpless by Hurricane Katrina can only be imagined at this point.
People around the world, even in countries whose governments consider themselves our enemies, know that when disaster strikes they can depend on the generosity of Americans to help them survive and recover. The rest of the world is so used to our automatic offers of money, food, doctors, engineers, medicine, clothing and other forms of assistance in times of trouble that our government has even been called "stingy" when their response was not quite fast enough or the checks not quite large enough to suit our beneficiaries. But it's not really the job of our government to send our tax dollars overseas that way. It's not really the government's responsibility to help domestic disaster victims, either. It's ours. And Americans always respond brilliantly to calls for help from around the world. Yet charity, it is said, begins at home.
When Americans are in trouble, they can only truly depend on the help of fellow Americans, the same people who are so quick to help people of other nationalities in distress. The effects of Hurricane Katrina are unprecendented, and it will take an unprecedented amount of help to recover from them. Please call the American Red Cross at 1-800-HELP NOW, the Salvation Army at 1-800-725-2769 or Mercy Corps at 1-888-256-1900 to give what you can.
31 Aug 2005 UPDATE: Here is FEMA's list of organisations to which you can donate money or volunteer service.
7 Sept 2005 UPDATE: Kuwait comes through with $500 million in aid for the people who saved them from Saddam.
August 31, 2005 01:09 PM PDT
Thanks for the links. I knew if I just checked the usual blogs there'd be one or two handy.
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