hurricane relief

September 3, 2005 8:24pm
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I’ve kept quiet on this one for most of the week because it’s really just too much to take in – haven’t really watched much tv, so all I’ve seen are the newspapers and some pictures online:

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/events/ts/080304tropicalweathe

http://www.digitalglobe.com/katrina_gallery.html

http://video.freevideoblog.com/neworleans/index.htm

Plain and simple, these folks need all the help that they can get – I wrote a column about it (below), so I’ll leave it at that, but if you haven’t already made a contribution or three, please consider forgoing pizza or the latest DVD releases this week … they could use the money a lot more than you can…

September 3, 2005

Against the Grain…
Offering Relief for Victims of Hurricane Katrina

by: Scott Sevener

Last year was the first year that I ever really had to deal with hurricanes living here in Florida, and as the record shows, they certainly gave us a run for our money in 2004. Although the Tampa Bay area never did get the direct hit that had been predicted, there were a couple of times that they came pretty close and I did end up having to evacuate with a bunch of my co-workers when things were looking too close for comfort. Ironically, the first trip took us to Orlando…which ended up plopping us right down in the middle of Hurricane Charley for a firsthand look at its power as it passed overhead before exiting Florida to the Atlantic Ocean. I didn’t really know what to expect from either trip and I think they did more to shake me up than anything else, but then again, I think it’s impossible for one to even fathom what they might do after returning home to find that there was no home to return to anymore…

…or worse, if they hadn’t been able to evacuate in the first place…

I think I can safely say that Hurricane Katrina is atop the most devastating storms that I’ve ever seen – the pictures don’t even compare to Andrew from 1992, I think simply because the standing water wasn’t nearly a problem in Homestead and Florida City as it has been in New Orleans. Reports say that it could take up to six months to pump out all of the water from the area and lord only knows how long before the city is even inhabitable again. As I type this today, although thousands have been evacuated to Houston and other nearby cities, there are still talks of hundreds that remain on their rooftops, dying from either starvation or dehydration or just plain exhaustion. It’s said that they’re doing everything that they can to save people, but the death count is far from over.

We’ve all heard so many horrible stories from this event – elderly and disabled people who’ve ran out of oxygen or electricity for their life-support systems, parents who are scrambling to find diapers and formula for their infants, and even one heart-breaking story of a man whose wife literally slipped from his hand and was pulled away by the currents, only to hear in her last words, “…take care of the children for me.” It’s sad enough for us to watch on television and see homes and buildings being demolished, only to be kicked back into reality after hearing a survivor stating the obvious – “We’re very lucky – we just lost our home and all of our belongings…our neighbor can’t find their daughter.” Just seeing the phrase New Orleans Refugees is enough to choke up the best of us. No one could possibly prepare themselves to deal with a tragedy like this, and that’s exactly why it’s up to the rest of us to stand up and help just as much as we possibly can…

But mind you, this hurricane simply hit America at a bad time. We’ve got a war going on overseas and we’re nearly amidst a gasoline crisis here at home as prices at the pump prepare to skyrocket well over $3 / gallon this weekend for the Labor Day holiday. Things have been tight all summer and it might seem easy for someone to simply reply, “Sorry, I can’t afford to help right now. Gas prices are just too much – we might even have to cancel our family vacation this weekend…” And to that I have only one thing to say – wouldn’t you hope that somebody would figure out a way to help if the shoe was on the other foot?

I know that things are kind of rough right now and with all things looming on the news from the frontlines in Iraq, many of us are left wondering just how we’re going to manage if and when prices kick gasoline up above $4 or even $5 / gallon…but you know what? We’ll get by, mainly because we have to; because we don’t have any other choice; but mostly because there are thousands of people from New Orleans to Biloxi and everywhere in between that would love but anything to have high gas prices being the most of their worries right now. You might very well dread driving your SUV to the station because you’re going to pull away $75 lighter after filling the tank, but there are people in Louisiana and Mississippi whose SUVs are under ten feet of water right now and they’re not even worried about it because they’re just happy that the entire family is accounted for. It’s times like these when we need to set aside our own minor problems and realize that there are a lot worse things that we could be dealing with right now…

I made my donation to the Red Cross yesterday because if anything, I know that hurricanes generally have a much greater probability of hitting Florida than they do where they did and I would hope that the rest of the country would do the same for us if our area had been devastated by such a horrific disaster. I would encourage everyone to make some sort of contribution to the relief efforts currently taking place – even if it’s only five or ten dollars – because every little bit helps and they’re certainly going to need all the help that they can get. It might mean cutting back on going out to lunch for a day or two next week or even encouraging your kids to donate their allowances to a worthy cause, but regardless, the sacrifices that you might endure to give some money during times like these is small beans compared to those who’ve lost absolutely everything.

It’s times like these for us to show our fellow Americans what being neighbors is truly all about. You’ll find links to a number of websites that are collecting donations online below – please help out wherever you can because you’d hope for nothing less if that storm had turned another direction…

Related Links:
American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org

Salvation Army
http://www.salvationarmyusa.org

Network for Good (multiple charitable organizations listed)
http://www.networkforgood.org

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