Monday, May 12, 2008

Tornadoes, Cyclones, and Disaster Relief, Oh My!

Tornadoes struck Oklahoma, Missouri, and Georgia on Saturday. Twenty one people have been confirmed dead, and the tornadoes left devastation in their paths. Small towns across the midwest, many of which were already suffering economically, now have to mount an enormous recovery effort.

Thank goodness, though, our government and our strong network of non-profits are able to provide aid to those families in need. Yes, sometimes the response is imperfect or severely lacking (Hurricane Katrina, anyone?), but some is better than none.

Many people in Myanmar are still waiting for disaster relief, ten days out from when the cyclones struck and massive flooding occurred.

Did I say many? I meant most. The military junta in control of the country has insisted on distributing all aid, and are preventing most donated supplies from even entering the country. Slowly, though, the government is letting in air shipments of supplies and distributing it themselves (and taking credit for it). Unfortunately a boat bearing Red Cross supplies intended for victims living in the Irawaddy Delta hit a tree in the flood waters and sank, leaving even more families without food and fresh water.

Many disaster relief experts talk about the "ten day mark," which is when we can expect to see another wave of deaths due to the lack of clean water, food, and shelter. Today is the tenth day since the cyclones in Burma, and we can only expect the news to get worse.

Still, even in the face of all this death and suffering, the Myanmar government will still not let trained disaster relief staff into the country to help their people, nor will it let in all the supplies that the world is willing to give!

If you wish to help victims of the recent tornadoes in the US or the cyclones in Myanmar, please consider donating to the Red Cross. You can specify where your donation will be used.

A section of the Irawaddy Delta, which has been completely flooded.

Related Posts: Global Volunteering; Myanmar Cyclones and what you can do to help

Photo of US tornado courtesy of the Associated Press.
Photo of flooded Myanman courtesy of Doctors Without Borders.

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