Red Cross appealing for help to assist tsunami victims

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Suffolk chapter of the American Red Cross is appealing to local residents to help the agency respond to last weekend’s massive natural disaster in southern Asia.

The earthquake that struck off the west coast of Indonesia on Dec. 26 triggered a number of tsunami waves, causing majoring flooding, severe damage and killing at least 76,000 people in several surrounding countries.

An American Red Cross volunteer will be deployed from the United States in the next few days, to join a team of British Red Cross responders in Sri Lanka, one of the hardest hit areas. Additional disaster relief personnel are on standby to travel to the region in the coming days.

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Relief supplies, such as plastic sheeting, family-size tents and hygiene kits, are ready to be shipped for distribution to people in the affected areas. These supplies are in a designated area near the region so they can be mobilized quickly. It is estimated that nearly 1 million people living in coastal areas have been affected.

Oftentimes, when major domestic or international disasters strike, people want to help by making donations of goods or in-kind services to support the victims, according to local Red Cross officials. However, the Red Cross does not accept or collect such donations in times of disaster.

&uot;The best way to help those affected is to make a (monetary) contribution to a disaster relief organization like the Red Cross,&uot; reads a plea for help from the Suffolk Red Cross. &uot;Your donation will allow the Red Cross to purchase relief items directly in the region, eliminating the costs of shipping and transport from the United States.&uot;

The Red Cross is not anticipating a need for additional volunteer assistance in southern Asia, officials said. The agency already has an adequate supply of bilingual, internationally-experienced relief workers set to respond the disaster.

The Red Cross is advising people seeking information on U.S. citizens living or traveling in southern Asia to call the U.S. Department of State, 1-888-407-4747.

Also, the agency is recommending that residents continue trying to reach friends and family through normal means of communication.

Contributions can be made

to the International Response Fund at the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW, going to, or mailing the contribution to the American Red Cross-Suffolk Chapter, P.O. Box 129, Suffolk, Va.