Hurricane Katrina has been labeled as the greatest disaster in America since the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. Ninety-nine years later, we celebrated the Labor Day holiday while watching the tragedy of Katrina unfold. Today, Katrina remains on our television screens, on our doorsteps with the morning paper, on the radio and in our hearts and our minds.
As the Gulf Coast reels with the devastation, the horror and tragedy that has just begun touches us all. Virtually every American will be affected in one way or another by this horrific storm.
New Orleans has been deemed inhabitable. As if the devastation of the hurricane wasn't enough, looters running rampantly throughout the area have hampered the efforts of rescue workers. Panicked people are carrying guns. The death toll continues to rise. Thousands of Americans have become refugees.
The devastation initially carried a price of $25 billion. Some are now saying that's low. In the end, the cost of this disaster will impact us all. As Americans, our role is clear. It's time to help.
There are nationally known agencies on the scene that can use our donations. At this time, monetary donations remain a priority over food and clothing. Find out how you can help by contacting the following agencies:
American Red Cross ‹ The Arizona chapters of the American Red Cross have deployed volunteers to the scene to assist residents. Call 1-800-Help-Now or log on to www.redcross.org.
United Blood Services ‹ Since Sept. 11, 2001, the non-profit UBS has stepped up its blood donation program. While all blood types are needed, the greatest need remains for type O, the universal donor. To locate a donation center near you, call 1-877-448-GIVE or log on to www.UnitedBloodServices.org/Arizona.
Catholic charities ‹ A special second collection at all the diocesan Masses was taken this weekend to help those affected by hurricane Katrina. Contributions are still welcome and can be sent to: 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund Catholic Charities USA, P.O. Box 25168, Alexandria, VA 22313-9788. For more information, call 1-800-919-9338 or on the Web at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
St. Vincent de Paul ‹ This organization is mobilizing its corps of volunteers to feed the hungry and help the homeless who are suffering in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Donations may be made by calling (602) 261-6814. Donations marked "Katrina relief" may also be mailed to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, P.O. Box 13600, Phoenix, AZ 85002.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ‹ Countless animals have been displaced as a result of the hurricane. Your donations are needed to rebuild shelters and assist displaced animals. Donations can be made by calling 1-866-275-3923. Donations can be sent to the ASPCA's Disaster Fund, 424 E. 92nd St., New York, NY 10128. View the ASPCA's Web site at www.aspca.org.