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Americans Open Hearts, Pocketbooks for Hurricane Victims

Americans have opened their hearts and pocketbooks for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Companies, charities, and individuals have raised tens of millions of dollars for the relief effort.

An official of the American Red Cross says he has never seen anything like the outpouring of charity. Money is being collected at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where people like this woman drive by with a donation. "I've been watching it on the news all morning, so I thought I could come down and help before I came to work," he said.

The National Basketball Players Association is collecting food, clothing and supplies for areas hit by the storm. A team of the National Basketball Association, the Hornets, plays in stricken New Orleans.

Red Cross officials say contributions from around the United States totaled 20 million dollars early Wednesday.

Los Angeles Red Cross spokesman Nick Samaniego says others helped his city after a 1994 earthquake and a more recent series of wildfires. He says now the help is flowing in the other direction.

"Food, shelter, drinking water are the basic needs right now that we're providing for these people. These are our neighbors that came to our need during the Northridge quake and the wildfires, and if we can lend a hand to them, let's do it," he said.

The retailer Wal-Mart has pledged one million dollars to another charity, the Salvation Army. Companies from the energy company Exxon to drug-maker Eli Lilly have promised contributions to the relief effort.

Michigan's largest utility, DTE Energy Company, has sent 100 trucks to Mississippi and Louisiana to help restore electric power, and a 28 member search and rescue team from Tacoma, Washington, is also headed there with truckloads of supplies.