|A massive, national effort is underway to help the victims of hurricane Katrina. In addition to federal aid, individual Americans from across the country are donating money to charities such as the American Red Cross. Some are even traveling to the devastated Gulf Coast area to offer whatever services they can to the victims.|
Americans across the country are reaching out to those left homeless, jobless, without food, water or medical supplies in the wake of one of the most destructive hurricanes in national history.
President Bush has asked former presidents George H. Bush and Bill Clinton, who headed up the tsunami relief effort, to raise awareness and contributions for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. "We're united in our sympathy. We're united in our determination to help the good people that have been affected by this hurricane."
Governors in states as far away as Wisconsin are sending National Guard troops to improve security and provide relief. Members of the Guard, like many other Americans, want to help. One guardsman said, "Everyone there needs a little help, and I feel fortunate to help them, and I'm proud to go."
Individual Americans, touched by the plight of the victims and their pleas for help, have so far contributed more than $15 million to the Red Cross. Volunteers in California are taking courses in first aid so they can help with disaster relief.
The state of Texas opened its public schools to children whose families are now homeless because of Katrina. Students and churches are taking up collections, donating money and supplies. Major corporations are donating millions of dollars for relief and reconstruction.
Actor Jerry Lewis hosts an annual television fundraiser for children with muscular dystrophy. This year, he says do not forget his kids, but also remember Katrina's victims. "If you want to send me $20 bucks for my kids, send $10. Send the other $10 to the people in this trouble."
It will take years to rebuild the homes and businesses, streets, highways and other infrastructure in the areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana that Katrina tore down. The storm's victims are looking to their fellow Americans as well as the federal government to help them with this effort.
One devastated victim says, "Everything (is) gone. Everything (is) wiped out. It's gone."