Juneau to help tsunami victims

Botelho declares Saturday of remembrance for victims of tidal wave

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Kristine Harder was 14 when she moved to Kodiak three months after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. She couldn't believe the mess the quake had caused.

"Downtown Kodiak was destroyed by the tidal waves caused by the earthquake," said Harder, who now works for the Red Cross.. "There was a 55-foot-long fishing boat in the middle of the town. When you walked into the grocery store, there wasn't any shelf or price tags for the food."

Having witnessed the destruction an earthquake can cause, Harder wants to do everything she can to help the tsunami survivors in Asia. She's not alone. Since the Asian disaster on Dec. 26, local government and nonprofits have worked to raise relief funds.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho named this Saturday a day of remembrance for victims and a day of honor for the survivors.

"We, as a state, have faced our natural disasters and been the beneficiaries of other people's kindness. It is nice to give back," Botelho said. "When we see people suffering, there is a wonderful natural capacity for compassion. People need revenues to express them."

Drop-off stations will be set up at local supermarkets and malls to collect relief funds.

How to give

Checks donated to tsunami victims can be made payable to "Alaska to Asia Disaster Relief Fund." Send checks to American Red Cross Southeast Alaska office at 3200 Hospital Dr. Suite. 203, Juneau, 99801. Call 463-5713 for more information. Donations also are accepted at any Alaska Wells Fargo branch. Juneau People for Peace and Justice has a fund-raising booth at Rainbow Foods every day this week between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Juneau People for Peace and Justice set up a fund-raising booth at Juneau's Alaskan & Proud supermarket Jan. 2 and raised about $3,500 within six hours, said Carol Anderson, a member of the group. This week, the group has a fund-raising booth at Rainbow Foods during lunch hours.

"People feel for other people," Anderson said. "Some of the victims are already poor and they lost everything. It is horrendous."

Harder, financial development manager for the American Red Cross's Southeast Alaska office, said her office has been inundated with phone calls inquiring how to help the survivors.

Harder said resident Judy Sherburne walked around downtown on New Year's Eve and collected almost $2,000 from downtown businesses. A waitress at an Asian restaurant reached into her pocket and gave Sherburne all the tips she had earned. Harder said people grabbed her on the street and in the restaurant, telling her that they wanted to donate to the relief fund.

"It's just very heart-warming," Harder said.

The American Red Cross of Alaska has collected about $330,000, almost seven times more than the nonprofit's original goal of $50,000, said Kelly Hurd, the organization's community relations manager.

Hurd said the Red Cross plans to send a big check to an international response fund set up by its headquarters in Washington D.C. But people who want to donate to the survivors can still send checks to local Red Cross offices, which will forward the money to the response fund.

"This is an unprecedented disaster with an incredible toll on human life," Hurd said. "There will be ongoing needs."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.

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