There are several agencies administering direct aid to the hurricane-ravaged states of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. National relief groups include the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Guard.

The Red Cross is providing the following:

  • Thousands of staff and volunteer relief workers
  • Over 485 shelters in the nine states affected by Hurricane Katrina and the surrounding areas, helping to house over 142,000 evacuees
  • Over 270 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV's), with more on the way
  • More than 3 million hot meals and almost 4 million hot snacks
  • Support in moving victims from the Louisiana Superdome to the Houston Astrodome
  • Public health prevention and treatment measures to contain the spread of disease and infection

FEMA is leading the relief efforts and providing aid in the following ways:

  • Helping to shelter more than 120,000 victims in 499 shelters as of September 5
  • Contracting over 1,700 trucks to transport supplies into the affected areas
  • Serving over 500,000 hot meals per day
  • Deploying 1,200 search and rescue specialists and 57 medical units from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)
  • Transporting truckloads of medical supplies and equipment
  • Aiding in evacuating all patients from 11 top-priority hospitals to alternative facilities
  • Mobilizing the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to distribute food, food stamps, and infant formula
  • Coordinating with the U.S. Department of Transportation to assist in moving victims from the Superdome to the Houston Astrodome

The federal government has approved a bill to send $10.5 billion in aid and pledged to start sending 1,400 National Guardsmen per day. As of September 5, 2005, the U.S. armed forces have deployed a combined 51,000 troops to deliver aid to the affected states, restore order to New Orleans, and distribute food, water, and medical care.

­According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), U.S. manufacturers had donated $40 million in aid as of September 2. In total, private sector donations have exceeded $200 million. More than 40 foreign governments and international organizations have made offers of support.

There are many ways you can help bring relief to those in need. Donating cash to a legitimate aid organization is the easiest and most effective way to help the relief efforts in most cases. Offering support in the form of cash allows relief agencies to channel resources to where they are needed most at a moment's notice. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Donate to the American Red Cross online or by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW. The Red Cross is also in urgent need of blood -- search here for information about local Red Cross blood drives.
  • Give to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.
  • Donate to the Salvation Army online, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or at your local WalMart or Sam's Club.
  • Donate to the ASPCA Disaster Relief Fund or the Humane Society Disaster Relief Fund to aid the animal victims of Katrina.
  • If you are considering donating to a smaller or local charity group, it's a good idea to check first to make sure that the charity is legitimate. The charity reports at Give.org are a great research tool.
  • If you are unsure whether or not your donation will be tax-deductible, you can use the IRS search tool to look it up.