Statement of Senator Barack Obama on Hurricane Katrina
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families. I pledge that I will do everything in my power to ensure that the necessary federal resources are available to rescue and evacuate the survivors and to rebuild the devastated areas of the Gulf Coast.
As the full measure of the catastrophe unfolding on the Gulf Coast becomes evident in the images we're seeing on television, our hearts break for Katrina's victims and go out to the survivors who are asking, "How do I go on from here?"
It's a question not easily answered by these Americans, or by the rest of us who can't even begin to imagine the anguish that comes with the realization that everything you worked for and lived for could be washed away without reason or warning.
But in the coming weeks and months, it's a question we must answer together. No matter how far we may be from New Orleans or Slidell or Gulfport or Waveland, each of us is called upon to answer the S.O.S. that has gone out from the survivors of this tragedy. We are all part of the rescue effort now.
Already, in the midst of the watery chaos that has slowed the escape from the coast, we have seen the unshakeable goodness of the human spirit at work. Ordinary citizens risking their own lives to save others; total strangers plucking each other off the roofs of flooded houses. People working 20 or 30 hours at a stretch, without rest, keeping people alive when fresh water and electricity and all else but hope has failed them.
In my own state of Illinois, we have seen 50 paramedics from Chicago speed down to New Orleans on a fully-supplied plane donated by United. The plane will return with 104 evacuees who will be given shelter in Illinois.
Right now, these acts of selflessness and compassion are being multiplied in cities and towns all across America. But if we hope to rebuild and renew hope for the millions who will ultimately be affected by Katrina in the months to come, we all must donate our time, our energy, and our resources to this effort.
Hurricane Katrina will be one of the largest natural disasters in our nation's history, and if we hope to overcome its aftermath, it will require one of the largest outpourings of compassion and sacrifice from the American people. Whether it's making a donation to the Red Cross, participating in the relief effort, sheltering an evacuee, or even conserving gasoline use, there will be a way for everyone to help. I know in my heart that millions upon millions of Americans are ready and willing to do their part.