Local Workers Help With Hurricane

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They could get the call any minute to ship out to the East Coast and battle the destructive effects of Hurricane Isabel.

Roy Salazar and Joan Meinke say they're prepared for anything. The local volunteers are among a handful of Lansing Red Cross workers about visit the disaster area for three weeks. They'll be dishing out food and providing shelter for hundreds of Hurricane Isabel's victims when the storm hits.

While Salazar and Meinke help disaster victims, the American Red Cross is also trying to recover. The group's national Disaster Relief Fund is empty. According to a national Red Cross report, "From July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003, the organization spent $114.3 million while taking in only $39.5 million."

As a result, the organization is going to focus its national relief efforts on disaster situations that require immediate emergency assistance. Efforts are focused now on providing food, clothing and shelter. Long-term relief provisions will be put on hold.

Red Cross leaders say the best way to contribute assistance to people in need is to donate money or blood.

Dropping off food and clothing at local Red Cross branches is not as effective, according to Lansing's Red Cross executive director, John Cauley. He says money and blood quickly and easily can be shipped to disaster victims, whereas other objects are difficult to distribute.

To contribute money people should call:
1-800-GIVENOW or 1-517-484-7461 ext. 125

Log on to:

People can also send donations to:
American Red Cross Disaster Fund
c/o Mid-Michigan Chapter
1800 East Grand River Avenue
P.O. Box 30101
Lansing, Michigan 48909-7601

People who want to donate blood can call:
1-800-GIVELIFE or visit their local branch