Tragedy knows no boundary

Reading and viewing online news coverage of the Katrina hurricane disaster in the US over recent days, I’m just awed by the sheer scale of so many people – thousands according to many news reports – losing their lives, family, and property. No comfort at all in knowing that this is a natural disaster, not the work of terrorists.

As usual, the BBC excels in the breadth, depth and quality of news coverage in such things. Thinking of what’s happened in New Orleans especially, I was struck by this comment in an analysis of how New Orleans was always at risk from a direct hit by a major hurricane:

[…] The US Federal Emergency Management Agency counts a direct hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the biggest threats the nation faces, ranked alongside terror attacks and earthquakes.

It also gets very personal when you know someone who has been directly caught up in his own personal tragedy. I received an email last night from Charles Pizzo, a fellow communicator and a past-Chairman of IABC, who recounted that while his family (including dog) are safely evacuated, "…[b]oth our homes have been lost. Media reports indicate no return for 12+ weeks. It’s impossible to reach our cell or land lines." Shel has posted about Charles, too, with contact info.

And of course blogs have come into their own again – as they did during the London terrorist bombings in July – as a channel to get the news out as well as act as a conduit for people seeking news and information about missing family and friends. One blog in particular I noticed – the Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog – has hundreds of posts and comments about people looking for family and friends plus some powerful images of the scenes of devastation in New Orleans neighbourhoods.

One very influential blogger has made a plea for help on behalf of his company – in a post yesterday, Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of General Motors and chief blogger on the GM FastLane Blog, said:

As you know, we generally try to keep the conversation on this
blog focused on GM products and services. But, given the
extraordinarily tragic circumstances in the South following the
devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I feel compelled to urge you to
please give what you can to help the victims of this horrific storm. To
our GM employees, GM is matching your donations to the American Red
Cross made through this page. And to others, here are some additional
good relief organizations
[list on post]

If you want to help, my suggestion would be to donate through the American Red Cross.

Tragedy tends not to be a solo matter these days, as reading through various online news sources I caught this news about a tragedy in Iraq yesterday that also has cost the lives of many people:

Almost 1,000 people are known to have died in a stampede of Shia
pilgrims in northern Baghdad, Iraqi health officials have said. So far,
there have been at least 965 confirmed deaths, making the incident the
single biggest loss of Iraqi life since the US-led invasion in 2003.
incident happened on a river bridge as about a million Shias marched to
a shrine for a religious festival. Witnesses said panic spread over
rumours of suicide bombers.

That is just awful. These people also need help. You can donate through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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