LETTER: Local Red Cross on Katrina One Year Later


A year ago the country was preparing for the arrival of a monstrous hurricane - Katrina. What we witnessed and experienced in the following days was devastating. As we commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina it is unpleasant to recall the flooding, destruction, and lives lost. Yet the response of the American people, people around the world, and here in Southern Maryland fills me with pride. I am profoundly grateful to our neighbors who gave their time, talent and financial resources to help the people of the Gulf Coast.

I would like to take this opportunity formally to say "Thank you" to each person in our Southern Maryland community who contributed the recovery effort.

* To our employees and volunteers at the Southern Maryland Chapter—thank you for your time, talents, patience and perseverance.

* To our donors—thank you for your contributions. Your concern for others ensured disaster relief would quickly get to those in need.

* To the hurricane survivors,—thank you for your strength and for all those times when your smile and the laughter of your children brighten everyone's day. You, too, were caregivers.

* To our families, friends and neighbors—thank you for the phone calls, fundraisers, prayers and for your countless acts of kindness.

When Katrina, Rita and Wilma swept into our lives in 2005, they became hurricanes we would never forget. Katrina alone impacted an area larger than North and South Carolina combined. Then Rita hit, extending the area of devastation westward. Wilma followed by slamming into Florida and delivering a glancing blow to the already reeling Gulf Coast. Each brought unique hardships.

In all, quarter of a million Red Cross disaster workers were mobilized, including over 50 local volunteers who gave up the security of there families and homes in Southern Maryland to go directly to the devastated area and provide Red Cross services from three weeks to as long as six weeks. Over 68 million meals were served and hundreds of thousands needed shelter. Health and mental health services provided help and relief. The Red Cross provided nearly $1.4 billion in direct emergency assistance to more than 1.4 million families (more than 4 million people). The numbers are staggering.

Now, one year later it is clear that the initial response phase has given way to the recovery phase. The need is still great and there is much more work to be done. The Red Cross is still hard at work with our government and charitable partners on the gulf coast. While our recovery effort that are fully funded, there are other nonprofits working hard in the gulf region that are in need of additional resources. We hope you will support them too.

During this one year remembrance of the worst hurricane season on record, the Southern Maryland Chapter thanks you, the people of Southern Maryland, for your support. We could not have done it without you. And we ask for your continued support as we prepare for whatever emergency may face us in the future. Please feel free to contact any of the chapter offices to find out how you may fit in as a volunteer.

Mike Zabko
Mechanicsville MD

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