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Hurricane Katrina Update

There's been solid progress in the devastated areas of the Gulf Coast in the past week, as everyone who wants out has been evacuated, the water level is falling in New Orleans, security has been re-established throughout the region, and shelter conditions have improved dramatically.

Hundreds of cities across America have opened their arms to evacuees, and millions of people around the world are doing what they can to assist.

Our Canadian neighbors had money, supplies, ships and search-and-rescue personnel en route to the disaster area almost before the skies had cleared. The UK has sent ready-made meals, search-and-rescue equipment and water pumps, and has skilled personnel trained in disaster relief on the ground. Australia has donated millions of dollars to the American Red Cross. Teams from Germany and Luxembourg are in New Orleans with high-speed water pumps to help drain the city, where they are joined by levee specialists from The Netherlands. There is food from Thailand, and South Korea has contributed tons of baby diapers. There are medical supplies from Taiwan, baby clothes from Mexico, first aid kits from Israel, tents from France and water purifiers from Italy.

I can only scratch the surface of what has been contributed from a total of at least 115 countries. With a zone of devastation covering thousands of square miles, I'm sure it will all be put to good use. The people who will benefit cannot thank you now, but I can, and I do.

Here in Houston, those who have lost everything are receiving three meals a day and the best medical care from an enormous corps of volunteer healthcare professionals. The largest shelter operations are winding down as 15,000 families are transferring into long term housing where they will have community support and access to jobs. There are another 40,000 evacuees living in area hotels and untold thousands in the homes of sponsoring families, most of whom are also expected to settle into permanent housing in the coming weeks. Thousands of children from New Orleans are already enrolled in local schools.

FEMA's plan to house thousands of evacuees on three Carnival cruise ships may be unraveling as evacuees are flatly refusing to move to ships berthed in the Gulf while hurricane season is ongoing. As I write this, the ships are expected to move offshore from the most devastated areas to house relief workers who have been working in 90+ degree heat, sleeping in tents and struggling to maintain their own health without electricity, fresh water or refrigeration.

And finally, I want to thank everyone who replied to my newsletter last week with a personal and inspirational message. Your comments are deeply appreciated. I am several days behind in responding but I will respond, by the end of the week.

Sincerely,

R. Alan Fox
Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go


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