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Shelley Osterloh ReportingImages of the disaster in SE Asia have stirred many to dig deep into their pockets to help the victims. The need for aid is so great, so overwhelming and widespread that agencies and charities are scrambling to respond, and Utahns are helping.
Just three days after the Tsunami smashed the coastlines of eleven countries, Utahns have donated more than $275,000 to Red Cross Relief. In all, American's have generously contributed 18-million dollars to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.
The director of Welfare Services for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in Colombo Sri Lanka assessing needs. The Church has already sent some supplies and has more on the way. By phone, Garry Flake said he'd visited a make-shift camp jammed with more than 1200 homeless people.
Garry Flake, Dir. Emergency Response, LDS Welfare Services: “"Probably half of those individuals had not had a meal today. We were able to quickly assist and within a day or two it will catch up to them, there’ll be food there. But some of those immediate needs are so critical to try and reach out and help people. "
Some supplies like food and medical kits are being sent from warehouses in Salt Lake. Church members in Hong Kong are assembling thousands of hygiene kits. Missionaries in Asia are providing translation services to help locate missing people.
Craig Knight Manager of LDS Emergency Response: "First of all we go right into the country and look at available resources and start our distribution immediate from within resources within. At the same time we are going to move some items that are not readily available by air into the affected areas."
Another Utah based charity, Globus Relief, now has the funds to ship 20 pallets of supplies, thanks to donations from individuals and companies. And while the outpouring of generosity is encouraging, the need continues to grow.
Co-workers of Stu Breisch, the Salt Lake Doctor who continues to search for his 15-year old daughter, have set up a fund in his name at any Zion's Bank. That money will go to assist people in Thailand. Also, volunteers for the Red Cross will be staffing donation booths at the Salt Lake First Night Event.