Hurricane Katrina HR resident raises funds for victims of storm

September 3, 2005

Debbie Lee of Hood River is donating profits from her Tupperware sales between Sept. 5-15 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

She is also contributing the proceeds from her garage sale between 9 a.m and 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 4201 Barrett Drive, to the relief effort.

“I’ve just been so blown away by the devastation down there. These people have lost everything and it has really changed my perspective,” said Lee. “I mean what do I really have to complain about?”

She is inviting local residents to help her raise funds by calling 386-2938 to place a Tupperware order. Purchases can also be made via the Web site:

Lee is allowing costumers to specify one of four agencies for their contribution: the American Red Cross, Northwest Medical Teams International, Inc., Salvation Army or Mercy Corp International.

“These are all good solid choices for people to give money to and, if I get an overwhelming response, I’ll probably continue the offer,” said Lee. “Americans are really great at chipping in so I expect a good response. Even though we really can’t grasp the total reality of the situation over there, I think we all really want to help.”

Hurricane Katrina, one of the most powerful storms ever to threaten the United States, plowed into the Gulf Coast at dawn on Monday. The storm’s daylong rampage included winds that topped 140 miles per hour and and made projectiles out of anything solid in their path.

Katrina had crossed South Florida late last week, killing nine people as a weaker storm. Over the warm waters of the gulf, the hurricane gained in strength, turning into a Category 5 storm by Sunday — the strongest meteorological definition.

The death toll from Katrina is expected to be in the thousands as bodies are recovered from under collapsed buildings and flood zones.

In the hurricane’s wake, millions of households and businesses have been left without power from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. The storm has also taken out 194,360 phone lines in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. With widespread power outages and hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes, many coastal counties have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew to deter looting.

Officials in New Orleans believe it may be weeks or even longer before people are allowed back into some areas of the city. Widespread flooding took place after the city’s levee was breached in at least five places by swollen waters from the Mississippi River. According to reports, about 80 percent of the city sits below sea level and, once water began pouring through huge holes in the dike, it quickly rose to a depth of 9 feet in some locations.

Officials have warned Louisiana evacuees to stay away from devastated areas for the time being to avoid “a wilderness without utilities that will be infested with poisonous snakes and fire ants.” Thousands of people have been stranded in overcrowded shelters where living conditions are often unsanitary — and they could be forced to remain there for weeks.

The American Red Cross has launched its largest mobilization of resources for a single natural domestic disaster because of the widespread damage. Locally, the Columbia River District of the Red Cross is collecting donations to help Gulf Coast victims. The agency is also calling for volunteers to help with loading and offloading of supplies and cleanup efforts.

Mosier Mayor Marc Berry has already left for the Gulf Coast, along with Jeff Pricher, the only paid firefighter/paramedic in Cascade Locks. The Hood River Fire Department has sent Peter Mackwell as a part of a disaster medical assistance team. Two other Hood River firefighters, Doug Epperson and Shawn Johnson, will join 1,000 two-person teams from across the nation. The Hood River City Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office are shipping off a package of clothing to help destitute law enforcement officials in Mississippi.

Hannah Settje, district manager, said the Red Cross can’t guarantee hygienic living or working conditions for its volunteers. However, she can promise volunteers a sense of accomplishment from helping their traumatized fellow citizens.

“If people have time to spare and are healthy enough for some physical labor, they are more than welcome to call me,” said Settje, who can be reached at 386-6000 or via e-mail at

She said there is no charge to victims for any assistance provided by the Red Cross. The agency’s Disaster Relief Fund enables workers to offer shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Contributions for the Gulf Coast will gladly be accepted at the Hood River office, 1100 E. Marina Way #103, online at, or by calling 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

Settje said the Soroptomist Club of White Salmon has alerted the Red Cross about its intent to raise funds by collecting change in front of the city’s grocery stores. Columbia River Bank has also set up a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to benefit the Red Cross’ efforts and all contributions must be marked for that cause. Donations to the fund can be mailed to 2650 Cascade Ave., Hood River, OR 97031.

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