Outdoor industry members coordinating immediate and targeted local support for Katrina refugees

With the help of Brian Brawdy, a friend and reporter for CBS2 who will begin traveling through hurricane-ravaged regions of Mississippi and Louisiana early next week, it is the intent of SNEWS® to help focus the attention of our industry and subsequently our nation on what we can do right now to be of service locally to the thousands and thousands of displaced people who are in immediate need of clothing, shelter, sleeping bags and pads, insect repellent, sunscreen, hats, shoes, gloves, duffels, backpacks, daypacks, flashlights and headlamps, batteries, stoves, water purification and so much more.
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With the help of Brian Brawdy, a friend and reporter for CBS2 who will begin traveling through hurricane-ravaged regions of Mississippi and Louisiana early next week, it is the intent of SNEWS® to do what we can, in addition to all the support and efforts already underway by the Outdoor Industry Association, to focus the attentions of our industry and subsequently our nation on what we can do right now to be of service locally to the thousands and thousands of displaced people who are in immediate need of clothing, shelter, sleeping bags and pads, insect repellent, sunscreen, hats, shoes, gloves, duffels, backpacks, daypacks, flashlights and headlamps, batteries, stoves, water purification and so much more.

Officially, "FEMA is working with federal, state and local governments and municipalities as well as private sector contributors" to continue with "live-saving and life-sustaining as well as short- and long-term housing challenges." Unofficially, government officials have told us they are very grateful for our industry's efforts of outreach. Also unofficially, local government staffers have told industry members that they will work closely with Brawdy and our team in the placement of targeted support.

Brawdy plans to be the eyes and ears of the outdoor industry on site, identifying in real time the needs of our friends. As the Outdoor Adventure Reporter for CBS2 based in Chicago, he is very familiar with reaching out to folks for a story. This time, working with SNEWS® as the communication link to the outdoor industry, his goal is to be able to reach out each time in substantive and targeted ways.

Downed trees and power lines, abandoned vehicles, still flooded roadways, and debris-covered streets are just the most noticeable road blocks that will continue to inhibit the delivery of massive aid – making it even more important for our industry to support targeted and locally-focused assistance, coordinated through Brawdy and working with his friends at FEMA as well as the two outdoor retailer staging areas that have volunteered to served as distribution depots – The Backpacker in Baton Rouge, La. and Buffalo Peak Outfitters in Jackson, Miss.

Each day, Brawdy will be calling into SNEWS® from his satellite phone, or contacting us via email from a solar-powered laptop as he is able, to provide news and information that we will publish in a daily "Brian Brawdy Reports" news file that will be posted in the SNEWS® Hurricane Katrina information center at www.snewsnet.com/katrina. We will also be working with the staging areas, government officials, the Outdoor Industry Association, industry volunteers who have already indicated their willingness to join Brawdy as a sort of "response team" to ensure immediate aid is sent to those Brawdy identifies as in need.

Brawdy told SNEWS® that, "Our industry is uniquely qualified to do this. This is great practice for the outdoor industry, our explorers, adventurers and professionals. In our age to come, tornadoes or terrorists, disaster both natural and man made, will require that the private sector be ready and willing and able to respond to help their families, neighbors and friends. We, you, me, our friends are the cavalry, the only response team that we can count on, as the events of the last week have sadly proven."

He adds, "There are no refugees. Just regular folks who, if the tables were turned, would be looking to help us."

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