Some events transcend borders. Tsunamis fall in that category. So do hurricanes such as Katrina and, most recently, Sandy, which has wreaked widespread devastation along the East Coast and elsewhere.
As I write this, the death toll in the U.S. from Sandy is 72 and climbing. There are 8.2 million people in 17 states without electricity, 2 million of them in the New York City area where streets were turned into rivers and winds ripped apart homes and businesses and snapped power lines that sparked deadly fires.
Thousands of other victims have been displaced. In the aftermath of the storm, 6,100 people were huddled in emergency shelters in New York, and many more in New Jersey and all along the Atlantic Coast were in similar straits. All told, the damage is estimated to be as high as $50 billion and repair efforts could last months or longer in some areas.
Still, there is reason to hope. That's because as big as the problems are, as widespread as is the devastation from Sandy, history shows us that there are solutions -- ones best summed up by the following three words in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution: "We the People."
It is the people of our great state and nation that have responded to every national and international challenge or emergency. We did so in the Gulf Coast, where people and nonprofit organizations pumped more than $3.5 billion worth of contributions after Hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005. That was also the case when an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010 and tsunamis ravaged Indonesia in 2004 and Japan in 2011. And few of us will ever forget the outpouring of love and support after the 9/11 terror attacks on our country.
Here in Utah, we also have been the beneficiaries of charitable giving. This past summer, for instance, many of our fellow citizens and nonprofit agencies such as the Red Cross helped with emergency supplies and shelter during our historic wildfire season, one of the worst in memory.
Now it is our turn. We have the opportunity to repay that kindness and do our part to meet the needs and ease the suffering of others who are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
As I listened to talk show host Doug Wright's interview this week with Utah Red Cross Communications Director Teresa Zundel on KSL radio, it was evident that the best way we can do that is with cash donations. Zundel said cash donations give her agency the ability and flexibility to best address the most critical needs of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Donations -- $10 is recommended -- for Hurricane Sandy relief can be made online at www.redcross.org, by calling 1-800-733-2767, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999. The American Red Cross is also in need of blood donations to make up for the roughly 300 blood drives that were cancelled due to Sandy.
The Salvation Army is accepting donations at www.salvationarmyusa.org, as well as $10 contributions from donors who text STORM to 80888. Ten-dollar donations can be made to the United Way at www.uwsandyrecovery.org or by texting RECOVERY to 52000.
Other organizations accepting contributions for Sandy's victims include: AmeriCares at www.americares.org, Save the Children at www.savethechildren.org, International Medical Corps at www.internationalmedicalcorps.org, and Relief International at www.directrelief.org.
Just as "we the people" have risen to help others in the past, I have every confidence that we will rise again to meet this latest challenge. After all, tragedies are not the only things that transcend borders. So do love and compassion -- both of which we Utahns have in abundance.