Hurricane relief effort: Nevada mobilizes ... or waits

Watching children pulled from the rooftops of completely submerged homes in New Orleans has compelled some Northern Nevadans to donate financially to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Others want to go - as soon as possible.

Caroline Punches, executive director of the American Red Cross Sierra Nevada Chapter, said Thursday she has a list of 35 trained volunteers who want to assist in the hurricane relief area. These volunteers are from the Reno and Carson City areas and are trained to work in hurricane disaster areas. But none of them will be leaving anytime soon.

"We do not know who will get to go and what special skills they're looking for," she said.

Punches said the Red Cross will probably ask for those who are trained in operating shelters and coordinating mass care and feeding.

"And I've also received 107 calls from people who want to receive the training," she said.

The Red Cross is offering a free class 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for those who want to help with the relief efforts in the Gulf Coast.

"Hundreds of people have called the Reno Red Cross office asking to volunteer, but disaster training is required before they can go," Punches said. "This full-day course will prepare them for what to expect and what to do once they arrive."

Volunteers must be over 18, in good health and able to serve for three weeks. The Red Cross pays travel expenses and covers food and housing while serving. Punches said volunteers should expect to work in hazardous conditions. To reserve a space at the class contact the Red Cross at 856-1000.

Punches said she doesn't have any volunteers who can go anytime soon because they have to be properly trained. Health is also important because of the difficult environment in the devastated areas. No power. Bad water. No communications. It'll be a challenging environment for those even in good health.

"People with certain types of medical issues can't go, such as those with diabetes," she said.


Two dozen medical personnel from the Nevada National Guard were deployed to New Orleans on Wednesday. Another 100 airmen and soldiers from the 72nd Military Police Company and the 152nd Security Forces Squadron were deployed Thursday for the Hurricane Katrina relief.

The 72nd of Henderson, with a detachment in Ely, and the 152nd of Reno, left Thursday afternoon to Las Vegas before heading to the New Orleans Naval Air Station via one Nevada Air Guard and one Idaho Air Guard C-130 aircraft. The flight was delayed in Las Vegas until the evening because of cargo problems, a national guard official said.

About 20 airmen left the Reno air base at about noon Thursday heading for New Orleans. About 20 military police soldiers from Northern Nevada flew from Reno and Ely to Las Vegas Wednesday evening.

Their mission in Louisiana has not yet been clarified, but they will be under the command of state civil authority and is in support of the chief law enforcement officer of the parish, according to the Nevada National Guard.

"They will be working as peace officers in some fashion somewhere in New Orleans, we're not sure where," said April Conway, spokeswoman for Nevada Nation Guard.

"I think they feel good about the fact that they're going out there to help their own," she said.

Services disrupted

Sierra Pacific Power Co. spokesman Karl Walquist said so far no power companies serving the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina's 145-mph winds have contacted Sierra Pacific for assistance.

Last September, the power company sent two Carson City linemen to Florida after its crippling hurricane season. Sierra Pacific has a mutual-aid agreement with other utilities in case of disasters.

"They (Gulf Coast utility companies) may not be sure what kind of help they need, where they need it or when," Walquist said. "They're still trying to assess what damage there is and what can be done."

Another service interrupted by Katrina - mail delivery.

No mail will be delivered to ZIP codes with the first three digits of 369, 393, which are located in south Alabama, 394, 395, 396, located in south Mississippi, 700 and 701, which are in New Orleans. About 80 percent of the Big Easy was flooded after two sections of the Lake Pontchartrain levee were breached after Katrina hit Monday. According to the United States Postal Service, there are 80 different zones alone just in the 701 ZIP code.

First class mail will still be delivered to hurricane victims by temporary stations. Periodicals and standard mail is suspended. Express mail cannot be delivered because the roads are not passable.

Carson City responds

As the crisis deepens, Carson City residents are organizing to aid those in need.

"I've been in hurricanes and earthquakes and what I've seen on CNN, this is one of the most devastating things I've ever seen," said Eagle Valley Golf Course director of golf Tom Evart. "This is serious because it hit the heart of the city."

The 3999 Centennial Park Drive golf course will donate all the green fees collected Wednesday to the Red Cross relief effort. Evart said this could total up to $5,000.

Instead of pocketing the bonus it would've been awarded for completing the Roop Street widening seven days ahead of schedule, the excavation company will make the $17,500 check out to the Red Cross for hurricane disaster relief. According to the contract, Marv McQueary Excavating Inc. would've received a bonus or a penalty of $2,500 for every day the project is completed before or after Sept. 9.

A roadway reopening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. today at the intersection of Roop Street and Beverly Drive, when the donation will be made. Roop Street will be open to traffic at 6 p.m. It has been closed since July 5 for widening and installation of a traffic signal at its intersection with Winnie Lane.

Red Cross volunteers will attend Adele's Summer Concert Series tonight to collect money for the relief effort. Restaurant owner Charlie Abowd said donations collected at the 8 p.m. concert will be matched by his concert production company, Captain LittleTrip.

Adele's Restaurant and Lounge, 1112 N. Carson St., will host the concert featuring musician Greg Brown. Tickets to the event are $30, but you don't have to attend the event to donate, he said.

"It's very devastating," Abowd said about the disaster. "Just being involved in the Waterfall fire, and our close proximity to that gives us a smattering of an idea of the devastation those people are going through. Millions of people and businesses are affected. It's scary just thinking about it."

- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

You can help

Hurricane relief donation drop-off locations in Carson City and Reno

All locations begin taking donations today:

Fast Signs at the Quail Center, 2300 S. Carson St. and in Reno at the Costco shopping center

Smith's Food & Drug Stores, 599 E. William St., will accept cash donations all month for the Red Cross relief effort. The company's charitable foundations will match employee donations up to $300,000

Northern Nevada Chapter of the Red Cross, 1090 Corporate Dr. Call 856-1000 to pledge money or online at

Citadel Radio station at 595 E. Plumb Lane in Reno

Rib Cook-Off at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks this weekend. All media booths will have donation cans. Nugget staff will collect and count donations each night and provide a check at 2 p.m. Monday to the Red Cross

Other local business efforts to benefit the Red Cross

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce will donate all proceeds from its 7:30 a.m. Wednesday breakfast meeting, at Western Title, 301 W. Washington St., to the Red Cross. Proceeds from its Sept. 21 business after hours mixer 5-7 p.m. at The Champions Real Estate & Manufactured Housing office, 10056 Highway 50 East, will also be donated to disaster relief efforts.

On public TV tonight

At 8:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings) will rebroadcast a report on one of the biggest civil engineering projects in U.S. history - the levying of the Mississippi River and why New Orleans was virtually defenseless against Hurricane Katrina.

Training for nurses

The Red Cross is offering a free class from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday for registered nurses or licensed practical nurses with current medical licenses who are willing to help with the relief efforts in the Gulf Coast.

This course will prepare nurses for what to expect at a shelter, such as planning, organizing, staffing and directing all functions and activities dealing with medical attention during disaster operations.

Those interested must reserve a space by noon Monday. Contact the Reno Red Cross office at 856-1000.


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