We've Raised a Half-Million Dollars and Sent Over 50 Tons of Food and Water - Michael Moore
Last week I closed my New York production office and sent my staff down to New Orleans to set up our own relief effort. I asked all of you to help me by sending food, materials and cash to the emergency relief center we helped set up on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain with the Veterans for Peace. We did this when the government was doing nothing and the Red Cross was still trying to get it together. Every day, every minute was critical. People were dying, poor people, black people, left like so much trash in the street. I wanted to find a way to get aid in there immediately.
I hooked up with the Vietnam veterans and Iraqi war vets (Veterans for Peace) who were organizing a guerilla, grass-roots relief effort. They were the same group that had set up Cindy Sheehan's camp in Crawford and now they had moved Camp Casey to Louisiana.
I have good news and horrible news to report. First, your response to my appeal letter was overwhelming. Within a few days, a half-million dollars was sent in through my website to fund our relief effort. This money was immediately used to buy generators, food, water, a mobile medical van, tents, satellite phones, etc.
Others of you began shipping supplies to our encampment. People in communities all over the country started organizing truck caravans to us in Louisiana. Twenty-two trucks from southern California alone have already arrived. A semi-truck from Chicago delivered ten tons of food. A group of friends in New Jersey got two 24 foot trucks, got their community to load them up with goods, and arrived in Covington tonight. Fifteen iMacs are inbound from California. One man gave us his pick-up truck and another donated truck is en route from Houston.
Your response to my appeal has been nothing short of miraculous. And it has saved many, many lives.
A number of you decided to just get in your cars and drive to our camp to volunteer to help. We now have had 150 volunteers here doing the work that needs to be done. Last night they unloaded twenty tons of food from a tractor trailer in under two hours. Each day more volunteers arrive. Everyone is sleeping on the ground or in tents. It is a remarkable sight. Thank you, all of you, for responding. I will never forget this outpouring of generosity to those forgotten by our own government.
My staff and the vets spend their 18-hour days delivering food and water throughout the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. What they have seen is appalling. I have asked them to post their daily diaries on my website (http://www.michaelmoore.com/) along with accompanying photos and video so you can learn what is really going on. What the media is showing you is NOT the whole story. It is much, much worse and there is still little being done to bring help to those who need it.
Our group has visited many outlying towns and villages in Mississippi and Louisiana, places the Red Cross and FEMA haven't visited in over a week. Often our volunteers are the first relief any of these people have seen. They have no food, water or electricity. People die every day. There are no TV cameras recording this. They have started to report the spin and PR put out by the White House, the happy news that often isn't true ("Everyone gets 2,000 dollars!").
The truth is that there are dead bodies everywhere and no one is picking them up. My crew reports that in most areas there is no FEMA presence, and very little Red Cross. It's been over two weeks since the hurricane and there is simply not much being done. At this point, would you call this situation incompetence or a purposeful refusal to get real help down there?
That's why we decided not to wait. And we are so grateful to all of you who have joined us. The Veterans for Peace and my staff aren't leaving (and that's why we are hoping those of you who can't get to Covington will make it to the Veterans for Peace co-sponsored anti-war demonstration in DC on September 24: www.unitedforpeace.org.)
If you want to help, here's what we need in Covington right now:
Cleaning Supplies (glass cleaner, bleach, disinfectant, etc.) Aspirin and other basic over the counter drugs. Bottled Water, Canned Goods, Hygiene Supplies, Baby Supplies - Baby Food Formula, diapers #4, #5, Wipes, Pedialyte, Sterile Gloves, Batteries - All kinds, from AA to watch and hearing aid batteries. Volunteers with trucks and cars Self contained kitchens with generators, utensils, workers
Consider sending supplies in reusable containers. List the contents on the outside of the package so the folks in the warehouse can easily sort the items.
Clothes are not needed. If you go, keep in mind that you MUST be self-sufficient. Bring a tent and a sleeping bag. People are driving to Covington from across the country and often have extra room in their cars for you or for an extra box of supplies. For more information, go to the Veterans for Peace message board: www.vfproadtrips.org/katrina/.
Send supplies via UPS to:
Veterans for Peace
74145 Hwy. 25
Thanks again for funding and supporting our relief efforts. It has been a bright spot in this otherwise shameful month.