The public response to the hurricane devastation on the Gulf Coast is about to become the biggest charitable outpouring in U.S. history, surpassing the relief effort that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.
Private donations total nearly $2.7 billion just 11 weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, according to the Red Cross and Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy, which tracks charitable giving. The total amount given to 9/11 charities was $2.8 billion. (Related: Charity scams also on the rise)
The amount of charity can help put a disaster in historical perspective. Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which hit about a month later, prompted a rush of donations that exceeded U.S. money given to the tsunami relief effort in Asia. "It's just shocking how far off the charts 9/11, the tsunami and the hurricanes are," said Patrick Rooney, the philanthropy center's research director.
The money is certainlly welcome, and a credit to the generosity of Americans, but it will only help with a very small part of N. O.'s restoration. The Federal Government needs to move quickly with lots of money, or N. O. will stagnate. You can already hear the frustration building on the local radio call in shows (which you can listen to streaming at wwl.com). Some people last night were calling for a "march on Washington" if some aid isn't forthcoming soon. Several people mentioned that they were told that FEMA is out of money. Bobby Jindal called in and confirmed it. With no money, and no electric power, how is anyone expected to begin rebuilding their homes?