Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oregonians Can Help - Statesman Journal Column

Wednesday's column on how to help out others in times of disaster.

We haven’t had many serious life-taking disasters here in Oregon even though many of our counties suffer floods, high winds, snowstorms, and fires. Weekly this column talks about being prepared for the next devastating event. Today’s column is a little different. I want to help you to help people in need outside of Oregon.

Other areas of the country are not as lucky as we are. The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season began June1 and many people will suffer loss of property, possessions and even loss of life this year due to hurricanes.

When the hurricanes start to hit land, maybe Florida or Louisiana, many of you will want to help. It is always heartwarming to see, but can also cause problems.

Consider this - roads are closed following most hurricanes, people are scattered, power is out and communications are down. Trying to drive supplies to a disaster area won’t work. Trucks can’t get through, ice melts, food spoils, and there is no system in place to distribute items that just show up to those in need. The givers and the victims both become frustrated.

But there are a few ways you can help out.

Volunteer at your local Red Cross organizing blood drives. Injured people will need blood.

Ask your local emergency management agency if they are sending volunteer groups to work at the site of the disaster.

Give money. Giving money is the best thing you can do to help during a disaster. Donate to the local or national Red Cross who is set up to provide necessary items and services to people in need. They need money to purchase materials and/or replace those that have been used.

You can be a great help to other parts of the country during disasters. Hopefully you will be prepared when disaster strikes here and won’t need help from them.

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