Gulf Gifts

Rallying behind the levee

September 10, 2005

The word “levee” takes on a more prominent role in the English language, post-Katrina. No longer is our awareness of a life-saving man-made water barrier limited to the “drove my Chevy to the levee” line in the Don McLean chestnut “American Pie.”

Of course, the levee is far from dry in New Orleans, just as much of the landscape in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama is drenched and destroyed.

But not forgotten.

People from around the nation, Oregon and the mid-Columbia Gorge included, are rallying for their fellow Americans thousands of miles away.

Page one of this edition carries information on new ways to help relieve the suffering on the Gulf Coast. Included is Hood River News’ own “Goals for the Gulf,” in which cash donations are made based on the number of touchdowns, soccer goals, volleyball wins, and cross country scores each week by local high school athletes. Call it “competing for a cause,” with the funds going to American Red Cross.

Cash donations are most needed by the Red Cross. District Manager Hannah Settje notes that the agency’s thrust now is to turn donations into debit cards to be used by Katrina refugees to help re-fuel the battered local economies in or near their homes or wherever they have found refuge.

We encourage residents to write checks as large as they are able, but there are other means to give as well. The Hood River County School District revived “Project Pencil,” (details on page A1) as a way to provide supplies for students and teachers who are learning and teaching in classrooms far from home.

One indication of the national nature of this disaster: To make room for some of the estimated 6,000 displaced school children now living in Houston, Texas; the school district is re-opening two elementary schools that were recently closed due to declining enrollment. Those students need pencils, pens, paper, and notebooks. Contact your local school to find out more about how to support “Project Pencil.”

Or try a little “fall cleaning” and give your used, good-condition clothing to any Gorge Windermere Realty office.

Talk about giving “in kind.” It’s our turn to help take care of those whose lives have been wracked by natural disaster. The engineers in New Orleans will need weeks and months to drain the city and restore the levees, but there is no barrier to giving, no matter how far away the recipients live.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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