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$1.5 million donated for hurricane relief

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Parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston have raised $1.5 million for hurricane relief through a special collection taken the first weekend in September, according to an archdiocesan statement. The donations go directly to Catholic Charities’relief efforts in the regions affected by Hurricane Katrina.

“We are grateful for the enormous outpouring of support from Catholics across the archdiocese,”said Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley. “We have been blessed by the charity of thousands of people who have watched with shock and concern the immense pain and suffering being experienced by so many of our fellow citizens in the Gulf Coast. We continue to pray for our neighbors in the south as they recover from the hurricanes.”

The victims of this type of natural disaster are in want of basic needs, the archbishop added.

“Having personally experienced the devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 while I was Bishop of the Virgin Islands I am well aware of the plight of those who have lost their homes and personal possessions and now lack shelter, clean water, food, electricity and communications,”he said in an Aug. 31 statement announcing the collection.

Father J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities, said that those helping victims rebuild were most in need of financial donations.

“For relief agencies working with those affected by this tragedy, it is standard principle that money is the best way to begin the slow road to recovery,”he said. “Because of the generosity of so many throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, critical funds have been raised to help those most in need.”

Although flood waters have receded from the streets of New Orleans, the cleanup work throughout the region has just begun. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished pumping the flood waters out of New Orleans Oct. 11, six weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the area and was followed closely by Hurricane Rita. Over 1,200 were killed in the storms that ravaged the Gulf Coast. Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were hardest-hit.

“The sheer enormity of the damage in the south is beyond imagination,”Father Hehir said.

Catholic Charities will continue to accept donations, the release added.

Earlier this year the archdiocese raised $1.67 million through the tsunami relief collection. The money was raised in January and sent to CRS by Feb. 25. The donations allowed CRS to provide food, medicine, medical systems, water and sanitation to those who survived the tsunami, which devastated coastal areas in 12 Asian and African countries.

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