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Tuesday, August 30th, 2005 -- 12:07 PM

Hurricane Katrina has taken dozens of lives and left an estimated $26-billion in damages and now American Red Cross chapters from around the country will help victims of the storm recover.

Pattie Kelnhofer is the Associate Director for Disaster Services with the American Red Cross? Wood County chapter, which also serves Clark County, she says this has been the largest American Red Cross response to a natural disaster in history.

"We're sustaining a lot of displaced people and it's going to be for an extended period of time because the flood waters aren't going to reside soon," Kelnhofer says. "Just (Monday's) figures, 27,000 (were served) in just one day. And that's just in the shelters."

Along with food, water and shelter, The Red Cross is also providing clothing, medication, and emotional counseling.

Some local residents have contacted the local Red Cross worried that they've not been able to contact loved ones in the path of the hurricane.

"Locating people can be a problem. There are a lot of shelters open right now. There are a lot people in places that they normally are not," Kelnhofer says. "It takes some time and tracking. We are working on some cases."

Kelhnhofer, who?ll actually be traveling to the hurricane-zone in a couple weeks, says this major storm comes as 'Wisconsin's' Red Cross Chapters continue to help communities recover from the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the south-central part of the state a couple weeks ago.

Experts say the most useful way to help is to donate money. You can contact your local Red Cross chapter, visit [url=http://www.redcross.org]their website[/url], or call 1 (800) HELP-NOW. If you want to donate specifically to the hurricane victims, you should designate your donation as such.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.