Local Support for International Tsunami Disaster

Both the Savannah and Palmetto Chapters of the American Red Cross are getting calls from people who want to help with relief efforts for the Tsunami that ravaged the coastline along the Indian Ocean.

With a disaster area spanning thousands of miles and six countries, the International Red Cross will a lot of work to do in the next few months.

"I have seen what a Tsunami can do," explains Dick Sanders with the Savannah Chapter. "It's just unbelievable. The wave, depending on the size, can go in for hundreds of yards and when it comes back out there's just nothing there. It's just scoured earth. It takes trees, houses, people, animals, whatever."

Here in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, calls are already starting to come in offering to help. Red Cross officials say they appreciate some of the offers, but things like supplies simply won't help in this situation.

Julie Dimitrov with the Palmetto Chapter says, "We thank them for their thoughtfulness -- blankets and food -- but the logistics of trying to package up everything and send it to we-don't-know-where just becomes a nightmare and really the best way to help us is with a financial donation."

Sanders agrees, saying, "That way the national Red Cross Society in the effected country can use those funds to purchase what they really need to have."

As the relief effort builds a handful of people from our area may be called upon to go overseas to help, but even some seasoned volunteers aren't qualified for an international crisis like this with continually mounting casualties.

"I saw ten thousand at one point," says Dimitrov, "And then by the time I went to bed it was at 20-thousand."

If you'd like to donate, you can log on to www.redcross.org, or send a check to the Red Cross Chapter in your area. Make sure you indicate you want it directed towards the "International Response Fund."

In Savannah: PO Box 9987, Savannah, GA 31412

In South Carolina: PO Box 2839, Bluffton, SC 29910

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com