Prime Minister Paul Martin and David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, were dockside in Halifax Tuesday as four ships loaded with emergency supplies prepared to head for the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Three navy ships and a Canadian Coast Guard vessel are expected to reach Louisiana in about five days. They are being joined by several Sea King helicopters.
One thousand Canadian Forces and coast guard personnel are aboard. They’re are bringing provisions including clean water, massive tents, cots, body bags, assault boats, lumber, pollution cleanup equipment, bug spray, and even diapers and baby wipes.
Navy officials were not sure how long the mission will last. Planes will continue to replenish supplies once the ships are in waters off Louisiana.
Canadian navy divers have also been dispatched from Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C. They will help their U.S. counterparts clear navigational hazards such as loose barges and inspect New Orleans’ damaged levees.
Although the current emphasis is on basic supplies, Canada could consider sending more sophisticated equipment, such as mobile hospitals.
The aid is coming from stockpiles set aside as part of the Canadian military’s own disaster preparedness plans.
By Sept 3rd: The Canadian Red Cross estimates that so far Canadians have donated over $1 million to date to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
As well, the agency said 37 Canadian Red Cross workers left for Houston on Saturday to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in the first of a series of missions being organized for the months ahead. The volunteers – from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Edmonton, Alberta – will support the American Red Cross in managing 270 shelters and delivering some 500,000 hot meals each day.
“We are sending our most experienced and highly trained volunteers to support the largest relief operation in the American Red Cross’ history,” said Don Shropshire, National Director, Disaster Services, Canadian Red Cross. “In the coming weeks we will send at least 100 volunteers to the region, then more as required. It is the most effective way that we can help our counterparts in the US,” Shropshire said. The Canadian Red Cross does not recruit new volunteers for this type of mission, but relies on its existing pool of people who have experience responding to disasters in Canada.
Canadian universities are opening their doors to American students affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The schools said they will admit undergraduates who were enrolled at Louisiana and Mississippi universities that have been closed indefinitely by flood damage. Up to 100,000 students have been displaced according to the Association of American Universities.
“If we can accommodate these students until [New Orlean’s] Tulane is up and running, then we’re happy to do so,” said Jennifer Robinson of McGill University.
The students’ immigration papers are being fast-tracked. McGill’s Robinson said the only inconvenience will be that the new students have to find their own places to live.
“We have about 25 hundred spots in residence but they’re all full. But there is off campus housing that we can refer these students to.”
Helen Adams had been enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus. The 20-year-old British exchange student is now heading to the University of Windsor in Ontario.
“Here in Hattiesburg, I’m afraid to leave the residence – they say a man shot his sister here today for a bag of ice – and when I tried going to Walgreen’s store yesterday, there was a five-hour queue at the pharmacy with everybody pushing and shoving,” said the second-year student.
“The devastation here looks like a bomb went off. When I heard I could go to Canada, I said, 'I’m so going.”’
this is in addition to the money, volunteers and aid sent by the Canadian gov’t and other NGOs.
Just so you know that Canadians are behind you and want to help.