Wednesday, December 29, 2004


NB: I'm leaving this post up for all of Wednesday. Updates will be posted at the end of this entry. Please scroll down and see what's up.

Every chance I had while at EC today (Tuesday, I mean), I watched the death toll projections mount on CNN. Most counts seem to be approaching 30,000, and it's possible the final toll will be much higher. At this point, it's hard to say: the totals we're seeing are based largely on the missing, not on confirmed dead (you'll recall that the death toll after 9/11 took a while to finalize as we went from wild speculation to elimination of repeated names on the rosters to a decent idea of how many people actually died).

CNN broadcasters took time out to mention a UN complaint about the stinginess of American disaster relief funding. I won't jump into that issue because I think a debate right now is useless. Instead, I'd like to ask my couple dozen readers to do their part to spread the word, to sensitize those around them, to think about contributing money, clothing, and other supplies to whatever relief efforts are under way, locally, nationally, and internationally.

The disaster was so fast and huge that we still have no clear idea of the true extent of the short- and long-term damage. I have dozens of Korean students who have either mentioned Phuket (in Thailand) as a travel destination, or who have returned from a recent trip there. For all intents and purposes, Phuket has been erased. Several Koreans are already known to be dead, and in the half-dozen or so countries swamped by tsunamis, hundreds of Westerners are feared dead, along with the tens of thousands (!!) of natives of these countries.

Please think about doing something to help. Here's a start:

Orient yourself by reading this OCHA report. (ReliefWeb's main page is here.)

Think about contributing time/effort/money to the International Red Cross.

Check out the list of disaster response agencies on this page.

Also, if you're a churchy or temple-y or synagogue-y or gurudwara-y type, check with your local house of worship about other ways you can be of service. Keep in mind that, as time passes, focus will be on things like warding off starvation, providing fresh water, and prevention of the spread of disease.

It's all well and good to be cheerfully introspective bloggers, chatting away in our little echo chambers, but when something of this magnitude happens, I think we'd all be remiss not to get off our asses, drop the politics and artsiness and goofiness, and do something-- anything-- to help out. Every cent, won, yen, and euro counts.

One last thing: The Nomad has a bunch of links that'll be worth your while. I hope he'll continue to provide updates. Visit his site often, or go where his links lead. Please spread the word. Please think about doing your part, even if that means chipping in a couple dollars or mailing off some clothing and a few supplies.

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds notes a one-stop-shopping tsunami blog. Very useful info there.

UPDATE 2: The Nomad has more here.

UPDATE 3: Drudge cites a Reuters article that moves the projected death toll up into the 60,000s. These are wartime statistics.

UPDATE 4: I keep hoping that other bloggers on my blogroll will start writing about this. The blogosphere's a powerful medium for the quick dissemination of information and activism. While I don't generally consider myself an activist, I'm reeling at the scale of the destruction. If you're a Koreablogger with information on what the Korean government is doing to help out, please post that info. If there are ways that expats in Korea can contribute to Korea-sponsored relief efforts (surely there must be churches and temples doing stuff here), please post that info as well. Many thanks to Rory for getting me started with this post of his.

UPDATE 5: If you're having trouble imagining the disaster's scale, think about a stadium-ful of people at a rock concert, suddenly dead and gone. And imagine that that stadium includes a large children's section.

UPDATE 6: Act locally. If you're a blogger who knows of a relief effort being run by an organization you trust-- even if 30 other people have mentioned it already-- please list the contact info for that organization on your blog.


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