|Like many people, I have been glued to the television or regularly pulling up the latest online reports about the devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Whose heart hasn't been torn out and stomped on by some of the saddest tales of woe? I know mine has! As powerless as we may feel at times there are things we can do to help and not hinder the Gulf region. Let's take a look at a few of them.
1. Send money. Yes, money is the best thing you can do to help these people. Reputable organizations such as the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army are geared toward helping disaster victims and can use funds to purchase what they know they need instead of what you think they need. Local churches and relief organizations can use your help too; always investigate whether the organization does what they claim to do and that they have the resources in place to help out. When in doubt, the first two are excellent "can't miss" choices. Oh, by the way, the Red Cross and blood banks can always use blood.
2. Do not send clothing. Huh?! Aren't some people walking around with just the clothes on their backs? Yes, that is a true statement. <u>Unless the call goes out</u> for clothing, shoes, blankets, and more, your sending these items may be more of a burden than a help. In 1989, while living near Charleston, South Carolina, we got slammed by Category 4 Hurricane Hugo. Soon thereafter well meaning people shipped in clothing -- including heavy winter garments [Charleston, much like the Delta region, stays relatively warm all winter; snow is a rarity] -- and organizations did not know what to do with all the stuff. I later learned that one well known nonprofit ended up having to bale up and throw out several tons of clothing. It costs money to haul off unused clothing too.
3. Adopt a pet. Yes, you will soon hear sad stories of pets permanently separated from their owners, many of whom died in the floods. If you cannot adopt a pet, consider sending money to an animal shelter, a zoo, or to a tourist park. Organize a bake sale, a garage or yard sale, or some other fund raising event and send the proceeds to afflicted organizations. If you do decide to adopt a pet, please do so under the condition you can take care of the pet for the rest of its life.
4. Open your home up. You may live near enough to the disaster area to be able to help an individual, a family, or an emergency worker by providing temporary shelter. The goodwill you show in providing shelter for free can go a long way toward helping the recovery effort. If you can't open up your home, consider volunteering as a food service provider, or by sending in cold drinks and ice to recovery teams, or by preparing a hot meal for an afflicted family.
5. Stay away - for now. Visiting New Orleans and other devastated areas is a mistake while the rescue effort is going on. Unless you are a trained emergency services person, you'll only get in the way. Heck, even the president of the US will not set foot in the area until they can handle his arrival. You'll only get in the way and, in some cases, your visit could be illegal under martial law.
6. Visit later. Once recovery is well underway and hotels can handle tourists, consider visiting an afflicted community on your vacation. Yes, it won't look as nice as before the storm struck, but you'll certainly do your part to bolster a devastated economy. It is likely you will be enticed with discounted airfares and hotel rates to visit; if you do you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you had a part in contributing to the local economy's rebound. Remember: tourists flooded New York City soon after 9/11 and tourists continue to pour into Florida to help that state's storm battered economy.
Above all else, we can certainly pray to the Lord for the rescue of the many people and animals who remain stranded and/or homeless as well as for the sustained recovery effort. Hurricane Katrina was a terrible natural disaster, but as with any event of this magnitude so many hearts have been pricked to help those who have been hurt. Certainly, that can't be a bad thing.
About the Author
Matthew Keegan is the owner of a successful article writing, web design, and marketing business based in North Carolina, USA. He manages several sites including the <a target="_new" href="http://www.corporateflyer.net">Corporate Flight Attendant Community and the <a target="_new" href="http://www.aviationemploymentboard.net">Aviation Employment Board.
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