By Express Staff
As the cities of the Gulf Coast continue to grapple with Hurricane Katrina's destruction, help is pouring in from the federal government, charitable organizations and individuals who with horror have watched the ordeal unfold.
"This is a disaster of catastrophic magnitude like none we've seen before," Michael D. Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a news release. "It has created challenges that we are working around the clock to address and fix. In the meantime, we continue life-saving and sustaining efforts and directing resources to those with the most urgent needs."
Response operations are being conducted over an area of nearly 90,000 square miles, Brown said.
Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who has encouraged Idahoans to be generous with donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, announced on Saturday that the state of Idaho is exploring the possibility of sheltering refugees from the Gulf Coast states suffering in the hurricane's wake. At the same time, Kempthorne also dispatched five Idaho National Guard tanker trucks carrying 2,500 gallons of gasoline each to the region.
The move followed the governor's mobilization on Friday of Idaho National Guard C-130 cargo planes to carry out humanitarian airlift missions to transport food, water and refugees. Also on Friday, Kempthorne signed two executive orders related to increasing fuel prices and national gasoline demand.
The American Red Cross of Greater Idaho has sent volunteers and emergency response vehicles to the area. Polly Gorley, director of communications of the Idaho Red Cross, said two crews of emergency response vehicles, or ERVs, were dispatched Monday, Aug. 29.
"We have about 13 volunteers we've already sent into the region," said Gorley. "They will be driving around, handing out food, water, cleaning supplies, clean-up kits and stopping and talking with people—seeing what they need and making sure their mental health is OK and that they know people are there for them."
Sinclair Oil Corp., the owner of Sun Valley Resort, has made a $500,000 contribution to the National Disaster Relief Fund of the American Red Cross. Sinclair has also announced that it will match an additional $500,000 in contributions made by its employees and wholesale customers through Sept. 16.
By Friday, Sept. 2, approximately 15,000 evacuations had been made from the New Orleans Superdome to the Astrodome in Houston and to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, according to FEMA.
Reunion Arena in Dallas and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas are also being used as evacuation centers.
Nearly 25,000 people packed into the Superdome last week to escape rising waters caused by broken levees.
Over the weekend, people were being housed in 275 shelters in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, according to FEMA.
President George W. Bush on Saturday ordered the deployment of 7,000 additional U.S. troops to affected areas. They will join 21,000 National Guard troops already called out to assist in recovery and to restore order.
Many options exist for people to help disaster victims.
Locally, Wood River Valley churches, organizations and businesses working to assist the hurricane victims can now post information online that has to do with what they're doing in the Gulf States region and what their needs are for accomplishing their goals there. The site, located at www.computerdesigns.com/katrinarelief, was designed and donated by a local business, Computer Designs Inc. Entities that wish to post information should e-mail all their relevant information to Michael Hobbs at email@example.com.
Former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton have established a joint 501(c)(3) fund to receive donations to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Checks or money orders can be mailed to: Office of President Clinton, Re: Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, 55 W. 125th St., New York, NY 10027.
Alternately, donations can be sent to: Office of President George H. W. Bush, Re: Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, 10000 Memorial Drive, Suite 900, Houston, TX 77024.
Make checks payable to the "Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund."
Contributions can be made to the Red Cross' Hurricane 2005 Relief by logging on to www.redcross.org/donate or by calling (800) HELP-NOW.
Donations to help animals can be made through the New York-based nonprofit North Shore Animal League America at www.nsalamerica.org.
Airlines have programs wherein customers can donate their frequent flyer miles to transport disaster response personnel.
United Airlines' partners include the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and Operation USA. Get more information by calling (800) 421-4655 or log on to www.united.com/charitymiles. Donations must be made by Oct. 31.
American Airlines' program is only for the Red Cross. Information is available at www.aa.com. Donations must be made by Sept. 30.
The Internal Revenue Service cautions people to verify the status of charities to which they donate money. An organization's tax-exempt status and eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions can be checked by calling the IRS at (877) 829-5500.
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance is also cautioning that Hurricane Katrina, like many natural disasters, is prompting some people to take advantage of American's eagerness to assist victims. Those interested in helping the relief effort can access detailed evaluative reports on many of the relief organizations providing assistance to Katrina victims by logging on to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance's Web site at www.give.org.