NEW YORK — As flood waters start to recede in the Caribbean, agencies are gearing up for what is expected to be one of the largest relief efforts in years.
The American Red Cross, for instance, is expecting this campaign's aid to exceed what it gave after hurricane Hugo in 1989 - $48 million.
The Red Cross's priority is to make sure people have secure shelter and sanitary meals. It then tries to get people back to normalcy.
"It is an incredibly traumatic experience to lose everything," says Randy Ackley, who works in the Red Cross disaster-operations center in Falls Church, Va.
In Puerto Rico alone, as of Sept. 28, the Red Cross had identified 113,00 homeless families.
Aid is coming from scores of other sources, as well. The Church World Service, the humanitarian arm of the National Council of Churches, is starting to raise money for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba.
The Rev. Oscar Bolioli, an official of the Church World Services, says he hopes to raise money, for example, to provide seeds and farm implements, since many countries had their entire crops destroyed. "We want to send money so things can be bought locally to benefit the local business," he says.
Politicians in areas with large Hispanic populations have also been quick to offer aid. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, for example, has encouraged New Yorkers to give to relief efforts for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The need for aid is sparking some private efforts, too. Twenty to 30 employees of Modell's sporting goods stores raised money outside of Yankee Stadium here prior to the baseball playoff game Sept. 29.
Chicago slugger Sammy Sosa, through his foundation, is raising money for his native Dominican Republic. And scores of neighborhood marathon relief efforts are planned.
To give money, you can contact:
American Red Cross:
Church World Service: