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Sue Bush
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Commentary: Brother, Can You Spare A $1

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, August 30, 2005

(NOAA) satellite image shows Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2005, as the storm barrels through the USA Gulf Coast.
You can’t imagine it and neither can I.

Hurricane Katrina’s massive path of death and destruction has likely forever altered the Gulf Coast, and the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are in catastrophic conditions not yet fully revealed.

As of this morning [Aug.30], portions of New Orleans historic, heart-of-Mardi Gras French Quarter are flooding. The Superdome, a place where so many sports teams knew the sweetness of a win and others swallowed the agony of defeat, a place so often filled with cheers, applause, light, and spirit, is now a darkened, soggy, dank, and humid shelter for thousands who are living in a soaking-wet state of uncertainty.

Biloxi officials are swamped; not simply in water and debris but with the absolutely unenviable task of assessing the death toll and the devastation estimates. The news reports are grim.
Similar horrors are being dealt with in Mobile and the surrounding region.

And a check of weather reports for the three locales predict temperatures in the mid to low 90s until early next week. Gulf Coast humidity levels are high. The power is out, the air conditioners are silent, and life’s very essentials, food, water, dry clothing, shelter, are all almost certain to be in very short supply.

Overnight, wealthy and middle-income families became homeless, and for those already homeless, or nearly so…well, when home is the street and even the street is gone, what’s left to say?

Red Cross Berkshire County Chapter has sent a team to the region

The good folks of the Gulf Coast need help and lots of it, and among the agencies providing that help is the American Red Cross. Locally, the Red Cross Berkshire County Chapter has sent a team to the region, as have Red Cross chapters throughout the entire country.

The agency workers will face indescribable conditions as they work tirelessly to feed, shelter, clothe and counsel what will likely be millions of displaced families, the young, the old, the ill and the anguished, and as they have done for over 100 years, the workers will stay until their job is done. The Red Cross tackles everything from hometown fires to international catastrophes. The agency’s emblem is recognized and respected all over the world.

Their efforts are costly work.

Kathleen Phillips, the executive director of the Berkshire County Chapter of the American Red Cross, explained earlier this week the benefits of monetary donations. Donations may be earmarked for specific causes, such as aid to areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, and donation revenues may be spent in the strife-riddled regions, Phillips said. Money spent in the affected areas does help keep local economies churning, and may save some businesses and jobs. People stationed at the disaster sites are the people who know precisely what is needed, and where.

And the integrity of the American Red Cross is very much intact.

Things are tough all over, as they say, and the gas and oil crunch has nailed us all in the wallet. Katrina’s ugly spin through the Gulf Coast is predicted to launch another price hike for fuel. We’ll feel it, no doubt about it.

But we will feel it from our homes, we’ll complain about it at our jobs, or to our loved ones over the dinner we eat at our nice, dry, kitchen tables. Our children will be tucked into their beds and we will settle in for an evening of television, conversation, or reading.

And if that pretty scenario should change tomorrow, the American Red Cross will be here for us.

My contribution to the American Red Cross will be in the mail by noon today. I will designate my donation for the Katrina response effort. Designation is not required, general donations are, I can assure you, welcomed by the agency.

It’s an oft-repeated calculation, but bears repeating here: If every Berkshire region resident gave $1, then thousands of dollars would be raised.

Brother, can you spare a buck?

Donations may be sent to the Berkshire County Red Cross, 480 West St., PO 644, Pittsfield, MA 01202.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
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