Governor Tom Vilsack has asked a retired National Guardsman to step in to link donations from Iowans with agencies or individuals in the “hurricane zone.” Colonel Robert King retired from the Iowa National Guard in January of 2004 after serving as its spokesman, and he’s been called back to duty as a donation coordinator. “The outpouring of support, the compassion that Iowans have conveyed is expressed very specifically in the amount of donations, services, goods, items that people want to provide to those in need,” Vilsack says. The governor has asked King to “connect” offers of assistance that Iowans make with those who need assistance “down south” so those donations will be put to their “very best use.” Vilsack offered state resources to help up to five-thousand people be airlifted from the hurricane zone or disaster shelters to Iowa, but only one airplane carrying 20 people from New Orleans came. Today, Vilsack ordered workers to tear down the check-in center set up on the Iowa State Fairgrounds to help process evacuees. “It is very clear that the state will not likely receive significant numbers of individuals at one time from Louisiana or Mississippi or Texas or Arkansas,” Vilsack says. “But we are still continuing to get people migrating up to the state.” Some hurricane victims have moved in with their Iowa relatives, or they’ve connected with an Iowa church that’s hosting evacuees. Vilsack estimates Iowa is now home to about a thousand people who lived in the path of Hurricane Katrina. The Red Cross says three-hundred-74 families have come to Iowa from the hurricane zone and sought assistance from the Red Cross. Just yesterday (Tuesday), 32 families now in Iowa sought help from the Red Cross. If you want to donate goods or services, call the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985. However, a spokesperson for the governor says cash donations are still preferred as the best and fastest way to get aid to hurricane victims.
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