September 02, 2005

HELP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

Itâ??s jarring to see pictures of devastation similar to the tsunami in Southeast Asia last winter taken here in the United States in places like New Orleans and Biloxi. Undoubtedly, this is one of the worst natural disasters our nation has ever experienced in such a concentrated area. In Idaho, weâ??ve seen the utter destruction that a forest fire can bring, and many remember the Teton Dam disaster. Yet, flood waters, wind and rain of this magnitude exceed even these events, bringing disease, loss of property and life, and catastrophic contamination of land and water. As the shock of what happened last week wears off, and we look ahead to the prospects of rebuilding shattered lives, property and businesses, it is important to consider reaching out to those who find themselves homeless, without income and basic necessities. Many Idahoans have already stepped in to fill the gap for these families. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has sent 600 firefighters and crisis managers to the region to break up debris and facilitate rescue and transportation efforts. The Greater Red Cross of Idaho has deployed two of its Emergency Response Vehicles to the Gulf Coast, and Idahoansâ?? consistent support of the Red Cross ($1.6 million over the past year to worldwide relief efforts) is indicative of continued meaningful and heartfelt financial support. The Idaho National Guard stands ready to send three C-130s and three UH-60s to support airlift, evacuation and rescue efforts. I have received a number of calls at my offices from generous Idahoans looking for ways to help. The following organizations are listed at the FEMA website and can be counted on as reliable organizations to receive donations. Unfortunately, natural disasters, while bringing out the heroes in people, also bring out scam artists wanting to profit from misfortune. Beware of this type of fraud and before donating, double check with the Federal Trade Commission at (website) or (phone) if you are unsure of the organization to which you plan to give. DonationsAmerican Red Cross1-800-HELP NOW (435-7669) English, 1-800-257-7575 Spanish; Operation Blessing1-800-436-6348 Americaâ??s Second Harvest1-800-344-8070 Donate Cash and/or VolunteerAdventist Community Services1-800-381-7171 B'nai B'rith InternationalCatholic Charities, USA1-800-919-9338 Christian Disaster Response 941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554 Christian Reformed World Relief Committee1-800-848-5818 Church World Service1-800-297-1516 Convoy of Hope417-823-8998Corporation for National and Community Service Disaster Relief Fund(202) 606-6718Lutheran Disaster Response800-638-3522 Mennonite Disaster Service717-859-2210 Nazarene Disaster Response888-256-5886 Presbyterian Disaster Assistance800-872-3283 Salvation Army 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440 United Jewish Communities1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440 United Methodist Committee on Relief1-800-554-8583 For further information visit my website at http://crapo.senate.gov or the Idaho Chapter of National Organizations Active in Disaster at www.idavoad.org. There are many opportunities to lend a helping hand in this hour of great need. President Bush and the numerous agencies who have responded tirelessly and in the face of very real danger to rescuers and victims of this catastrophe are to be commended for their efforts and perseverance. Help will come to those who need itâ??we are Americans and we do not forget our own, whether it is a battlefield or in the flooded and battered remains of Hurricane Katrina. WORD COUNT: 539