Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina- Donations and Ripple Effects

Private US aid pours in to help cope with Katrina

"Aid agencies tallied more than $90 million in private donations on Thursday as relief efforts cranked up to cope with the widespread devastation, hunger and despair caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"We have never seen an outpouring of support like this in our existence," said Phil Zepeda, spokesman for hunger relief group America's Second Harvest. "It's just tremendous, and the outpouring of support just continues to come."

The American Red Cross alone has received donations of $71.6 million since the storm struck on Monday, with an unprecedented 100,000 phone calls to its emergency hotline a day later, said spokeswoman Deborah Daley.

The donations compare to a little more than the $130 million total the American Red Cross received for last year's four hurricane hits on the southeast United States.

"Unfortunately we know the needs to deal with Katrina will exceed the $130 million needed to deal with the four hurricanes," Daley said.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Theresa Whitfield said donations had now jumped to $15.5 million from $4 million on Wednesday.

The Internal Revenue Service issued a statement reminding Americans about tax benefits for charitable donations, and pointed donors to a federal list of tax-exempt groups."

Storm and flood victims are eligible for disaster area tax relief. Also, citizens who want to make charitable contributions can seek out qualified charities for their donations.

Information from the IRS on everything from making your donations count/avoiding scams to tax relief for hurricane victims-

Hurricane Katrina: Information on Charitable Giving, Tax-Relief Issues

The IRS recommends these government web sites as well:

IRS Disaster Relief Page
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Department of Homeland Security the main U.S. Government web portal


"President George W. Bush said on Thursday looters in New Orleans and elsewhere in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should be treated with "zero tolerance" and urged Americans not to buy gasoline if they do not need it because of looming shortages."

First of all, looting? What the hell is wrong with some people? Although I'm sure "zero tolerance" does not mean kick the ass of anyone you happen to see looting (or does it?), I'd still count this as a viable option.

Second, sudden shortages do often result in a surge in demand. People hurry-scurry to get their supply (and then some) before it all runs out.

This is a very bad thing because it can cause a shortage that may otherwise have not happened.

Basic economics is about supply and demand. When demand exceeds supply- prices go up.

The devastation of the oil industry infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region has cut the available supply for the time being. If demand grows, prices will go up more sharply.

If people will just wait and refuel when they really need to do so, then demand will not spike this week. Hopefully, prices will not be up at $4, $5, or perhaps even $6 per gallon soon.

Cutting your gasoline usage now may mean the difference between a mild and a severe fuel crisis later.

I suggest that anyone with the funds to stockpile fuel should donate some of those funds to hurricane victims instead. That way, we all win. :)

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