What survivors need
We live in Long Beach, MS. The Mississippi coast was really slammed by katrina and I just want to thank everyone who donated, volunteered and prayed for us. We had relatively minor damage to our house but many friends lost everything. Here is what is needed after an event like Katrina:
First two weeks: Food, water and ice. Medical and pharmacy services. Shelter for those who lost their homes. Restoration of power and phone service. Gasoline (pumps don't work without power!).
After the above have been provided, people need cash! Cars need gas, people need food, medicine, etc. Homes and businesses need repairs. You have no idea how hard is is right now for people to get fair settlements from their insurance companies...and that includes the big name companies. FEMA has provided cash for a lot of people but many others haven't gotten a penny from FEMA or their insurance companies. FEMA seems to make no sense in how they chose who gets help and who doesn't. People with no damage have gotten $2000 while others who had their homes flooded and can't live in them have gotten nothing. Red CRoss has provided cash grants to anyone in the area who applies, regardless of income and they have been a real Godsend. For many, Red Cross money is the only assistance they have gotten or may get. If you know someone in the area, send cash, either for them or so they can give it to someone who needs it. So many are now destitute, having lost their homes, jobs, cars, everything.
Money that doesn't go directly to survivors probably goes to some "relief project" and may not ever find its way into the hands of those who need it most. Try to make your donations to groups that will put the money in someone's hand.
One more note: While I am not a church-goer, I have to say that the churches, both local and from out of the area, have been fantastic. They have provided everything free, food, water, ice, cleaning supplies, diapers and other personal items, even housing. Church groups have gone to neighborhoods with chain saws and cleared yards and streets. These people have really made me proud to be an American, to see how they've reached out and given of themselves to help us.