Storehouses Continue to Send Supplies to Hurricane Katrina Victims
By Nicole Seymour, Church Magazines
Two additional truckloads of humanitarian aid for Hurricane Katrina's hardest-hit areas along the Gulf coast are on their way from the Bishops' Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City. The semi-trucks, loaded Wednesday, are filled with supplies necessary to sustain the lives of Hurricane Katrina refugees. The cargo includes tents, sleeping bags, bottles of drinking water, and five-gallon gas containers. Meanwhile, Church meetinghouses across the Southeast continue to be used as emergency shelters. One meetinghouse in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb, served as an American Red Cross Shelter and a destination for carloads of the state's refugee families, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report.
At a press conference addressing the Church's ongoing role in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Kevin Nield, director of Bishops' Storehouse Services, said the Church would continue to meet the needs of Church members and other community members who are seeking refuge.
Brother Nield, who has played a significant role in the management of the Church's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, said a sufficient supply of drinking water is most essential. He said more water is in demand because of the potential for disease in local water supplies and also because thirst is greater than hunger among evacuees who are, to an extent, in shock. Brother Nield also said the five-gallon gas containers will serve as fuel tanks for generators and chain saws.
As 14 other trucks from the large central warehouse in Salt Lake have arrived or are near arrival among Hurricane Katrina evacuees, food, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies preceded the latest shipment. Central bishops' storehouses in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia are sending vehicles and supplies to the hurricane victims. Brother Nield said some trucking companies are teaming up with the Church to help the regional storehouses to haul goods; some even contribute to the supply of aid. “It could be a bishops' storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana or it could be a chapel in Biloxi, Mississippi,” Brother Nield said. “It depends where the need is and the kind of requests that come forward.” He said the most urgent need is in the areas the media indicate: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi.
Volunteers from stakes neighboring the disaster are ready and waiting to help, Brother Nield said. “At the appropriate time, members will go in to help: to clean up and fix up and do what recovery could be done early on,” he said. “But again, it is too early in the assessment part of this whole process to know where they will be most needed and what they will be doing.” (For information about how to help with hurricane relief, visit www.providentliving.org).
Even though relief efforts are ongoing, the death toll continues to rise. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, said Wednesday that he estimates the number of storm-related fatalities for his city to be at least in the hundreds, but more likely in the thousands. New Orleans has ironically flooded further in the wake of the storm because much of the city is below sea level. Eighty percent of the city is submerged because of the broken levees on neighboring, Lake Pontchartrain. To the east, Mississippi has a death count of 110; Alabama, 2; and Florida, 11all victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also in the aftermath of the storm, 2.3 million people across the Southeast have been without electricity.
Federal officials have weighed-in on the disaster. Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who is a member of the Church, declared a public health emergency. Because of standing water in many areas, the threat of diseases such as typhoid and cholera is apparent. Leavitt said more medical personnel would be present in the hardest hit areas to counter the spread of disease.