Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said yesterday he will use his vast political network of donors and volunteers to help victims of Hurricane Gustav after it makes landfall.
Gustav is on course to hit the Gulf Coast near New Orleans early Monday, almost exactly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed whole areas of the city, leaving about 1,800 people dead across the region.
“I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there, if it becomes necessary,” Obama told reporters after attending St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Lima, Ohio. “I think we can activate an e-mail list of a couple of million people who want to give back,” he said.
Before sending out volunteers, Obama said he would ask officials in the affected areas what is most needed. Donations could include cash, goods and individual labor, he said.
Obama is considering visiting the storm-damaged areas. He doesn’t want to go if it will be a distraction or a resource drain for the affected areas because of security concerns.
Hurricane Gustav has weakened to a category two storm, with the eyewall moving onto the southeastern Louisiana coast, according to the National Weather Service.
A hurricane warning remains in effect from High Island, Texas, eastward to the Mississippi-Alabama borders, including the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
As a result of Gustav, the Republican National Convention has been scaled back and President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have both cancelled plans to attend. Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has not decided whether he will attend.
McCain, who was extremely critical of Bush’s response to Katrina, visited Mississippi on Sunday ahead of the storm’s landfall.
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director for BlackEnterprise.com.