Hurricane Katrina/Flood Aid
Seeing the pictures and reading the tragic stories, we all feel moved to help those who have lost so much in the Gulf Coast states. Yet it can be hard knowing exactly how and where to offer that help: Money? Materials? Service?
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit will be hosting a special blog event Thursday to guide readers to sites and information, allowing each of us to make the most of our energies, assets and skills. Please be sure to check in there to find out what you can do to ease the pain our friends and neighbors are feeling.
Instapundit also guided me to Wizbang's sobering post about what people in New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi and vicinity need more than hot rhetoric. Read his post and see if you might fit the bill for tracking down and relaying the information so many who have lost everything are now struggling to learn.
For my part, the mention of Red Cross aid and how victims can request assistance struck a chord. My mom, Jackie Miller, happens to work for the Henry County (Ohio) Chapter of the American Red Cross, and was able to describe the basics of applying for Red Cross disaster aid money:
1) All Red Cross shelters and chapter offices, as well as most local, state and federal Emergency Management Agency shelters and offices should have Red Cross representatives on hand to help fill out applications for monetary aid. Those just now going to shelters will most likely be registered through a Red Cross Family Services interview, at which one can apply for aid. There will probably be some waiting involved, as the numbers are so overwhelming. I am working on a comprehensive list of locations and phone numbers in and around the affected area so those who are staying in hotels, with family, etc. can find a nearby office to apply for the aid. Stay tuned ....
2) The process will go more smoothly the more information the applicant can supply - forms of identification, household and family details, specific needs, etc. Obviously, many who have lost practically everything will have no way of providing any "documentation" - the Red Cross is experienced at dealing with such problems (if not on this large a scale) and CAN and WILL still help with emergency needs. Take a personal or family inventory, figure out what you have and what you do not have but truly need in the short term - clothing, shoes, medications, eyeglasses, etc. Write these items down and when you get a chance to speak with a Red Cross representative to apply for disaster aid, present the list. This will expedite the process.
A couple of things to keep in mind: The Red Cross supplies emergency aid; longer term financial needs may require other avenues of assistance. However, if you have an urgent need for help, please do talk to the representatives. They will either help you or guide you to those who may help.
Please be patient. The volunteers (mostly) who will be working with victims have the desire to help everyone, but the shere volume will make progress slow. Also, many Red Cross volunteers from "up North" like my area who are heading "down South" will not be immediately familiar with local procedures, geography and especially dialects. Let me apologize for these shortcomings up front. Still, I know some of the people preparing to leave for three-week missions and the reason they are doing so is to assist - they will be giving their all.
America always is strongest when Americans work together. Through the tragedy and tears, I'm sure the response to Hurricane Katrina will demonstrate the national character once again.
UPDATE: This page on the Red Cross site lists potential avenues of financial assistance and also has good suggestions about prioritizing your needs.