By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
First came Charley. Then Frances and Ivan. Now Jeanne. Florida has been inundated by bad weather and bad luck as four hurricanes have afflicted the state in the past six weeks, and the residents, which include at least 20 ACU students, need our help.
Charley came first on Aug. 13 as a Category 4 hurricane that hit the southwest coast of Florida. Frances was next during Labor Day weekend, hitting the state’s midsection as a Category 4 hurricane. Then Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane, struck the panhandle Sept. 16. Most recently, Hurricane Jeanne, a Category 3, ravaged the coast close to where Frances hit.
The storms also caused death and destruction in the islands in the Caribbean. In Haiti, at least 1,500 people were killed by Hurricane Jeanne, and officials said as much as 80 percent of the country was flooded.
Six people were killed by Jeanne in Florida, and officials are saying some won’t have power for three weeks. Crops are ruined, and most businesses and homes suffered at least minor damage, if they weren’t destroyed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has initiated the biggest response in its history, surpassing the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to an article in the Washington Post.
To help with the relief, the search engine Ask Jeeves has pledged up to $1 million for every search performed on a special Red Cross search page. The relief organization can use this money to help provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need, according to redcross.org.
Not everyone can drive through three states to help the residents rebuild or donate half a million dollars. But we can help. Instead of buying a new CD, donate $20 to the Red Cross to help buy water for a dehydrated, homeless family. Instead of ordering the $5 student special at Chicken Express, send it to help feed an elderly couple that doesn’t have any food left.
To help, you can donate money to the American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW; sending a check to: American Red Cross, Attn: Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C., 20013; or going online at redcross.org.
Also, the Students’ Association will take a collection after Chapel and in the Campus Center on Monday to donate to Healing Hands International, an international and relief aid organization, so the group can purchase beans, rice and water to be distributed in Florida and Haiti. Brad and Monica Gautney, ACU alumni, are Haitian missionaries and will help buy and distribute the supplies in Haiti beginning Oct. 8.
You don’t have to promise half of what’s in your bank account to make a difference. We could raise $25,000 if every student on campus donated $5, and even more if faculty and staff pitched in, too.
These people are in need, and right now, $5 worth of water or food could be what helps them survive.