Hurricane Katrina “created an area of destruction that is 90,000 square miles, an area larger than the size of Great Britain.” (www.whitehouse.gov) President Bush has declared states of emergency in the affected states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and also in Texas and Arkansas to help make federal assistance available to those who need it. “A vast coastline of towns and communities [in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana] has been flattened; [New Orleans] is submerged.” (www.whitehouse.gov) “The [Louisiana] state secretary of environmental quality, Michael D. McDaniel, said that wildlife habitats along hundreds of miles of coastline had been destroyed and that the hurricane exacerbated the slow coastal erosion that had already made the coast more vulnerable to hurricanes.” (www.nytimes.com) The Mayor of New Orleans reports major fires and gas leaks throughout the city of New Orleans. Flood waters there are contaminated with sewage, bodies and chemicals. It will take months, or perhaps years, and billions of dollars to overcome the effects of this natural disaster.
As a result of Katrina’s destruction, tens of thousands have lost their homes and been displaced. Many have been separated from their families. Others suffer for lack of food, water, or medicine. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost. Sports facilities, convention centers, church meetinghouses and the homes of private citizens all over the country have provided shelter, showers, meals, water and medical assistance to the homeless. “After accepting more than 11,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees, officials said the Astrodome was full and at least temporarily halted the flow of evacuees into the shelter Thursday night.” (www.news.yahoo.com) Refugees are now being housed in the Reliant Stadium, the George R. Brown Convention Center, other shelters and churches throughout the Greater Houston Area.
Active duty troops and National Guard troops are working side by side in search and rescue, evacuation, and peace keeping operations, the Department of Homeland Security is coordinating the governments response, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing resources and supplies to affected areas, the Army Corps of Engineers are working on repairs to levees breeched by Katrina to stop flooding in New Orleans, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are helping local communities assist those displaced from their homes., the Energy Department is working on restoring power to the affected areas, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is helping to make additional fuel available, the Department of Defense has sent eight Navy ships with food, water, medicine, hospital facilities and berthing to the area, the United States Coast Guard is successfully carrying out search and rescue operations, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to mitigate the risk of disease. (www.whitehouse.gov)
Private relief organizations assisting victims include: the Red Cross, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, AmeriCares, RoommateClick.com (Site offering a service for the New Orleans homeless, free of charge), Black America Web Relief Fund (Support to families who are assisting those displaced by the hurricane), Baton Rouge Area Foundation(BRAF), PART-15.ORG (Effort to reestablish communications services in the region.), Save the Children, United Way, Episcopal Relief & Development, United Methodist Committee, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, FEMA, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Emergency Animal Rescue Service, Operation Blessing, America’s Second Harvest, Adventist Community Services, Christian Disaster Response, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Church World Service, Convoy of Hope, Lutheran Disaster Response, Mennonite Disaster, Nazarene Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Jewish Communities, Southern Baptist. (www.nytimes.com)
Individually, I will continue to pray for those who are suffering as well as for those who are providing relief and donate funds to the Church to support relief efforts through fast offerings or to the humanitarian fund of the Church through my local ward. Also, as 1st counselor in the Young Men’s organization and a Varsity Scout leader in my local ward, I will be working with the youth of my local ward to prepare personal An hygiene kits for hurricane victims. And finally, as a member of the Elders quorum in my local ward, I will report for duty at a command center in Slidell, Louisiana, the second hardest hit stake after New Orleans, at eight o’clock in the morning this Saturday as a member of one of
two teams of ten priesthood brethren each who will work shoulder to shoulder with at least 1,300 others through Sunday. We have been asked to bring chain saws, shovels, and heavy duty rakes and to be completely self-contained. We are taking with us everything we need to be self-sufficient including food, water, and gasoline for our return trip.