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Disaster news not just spectator sport

If a picture is worth a thousand words, most people's televisions are talking non-stop as images of the chaos caused by Hurricane Katrina flash across screens throughout the world.

Katrina blasted into Louisiana and Mississippi gulf coasts Monday, bringing

145-mph winds, torrential rains and a wake of destruction.

Entire neighborhoods were submerged, homes and building were destroyed and general chaos was caused as the storm moved inland. Katrina was the most powerful storm to affect Mississippi since Hurricane Camille came in as a Category 5 in 1969, killing 143 people along the Gulf Coast.

The effects are now heading toward the Tri-State but will not compare to the levels experienced in the South.

It will likely be days before we know the true magnitude of the destruction across Florida, New Orleans and Mississippi, but we should be prepared to lend a hand to help rebuild all that was destroyed by Mother Nature's wrath.

Though it may be several hundred miles south of us, the effects of the hurricane can certainly hit home for all us. Many Tri-State residents will likely know someone who was affected or know someone who knows someone.

Even if not, each of us will likely feel the effects at the gas pump since many of the nation's oil refineries and production facilities are along the Gulf Coast.

We should all rally together and support our fellow Americans just as we did the Southeast Asia tsunami victims last year. Americans opened their hearts and their wallets to provide millions of dollars in aid to these nations.

This cause was certainly worthy but the tsunami victims were people we have never met, do not know and likely never will. Those affected by Katrina are our neighbors, relatives, friends and countrymen.

For the sake of our nation, our economy and our fellow citizens, we must all rally together and show the same support here at home that we did to those affected overseas.

Sometimes the tragedies on the TV hit far closer to home than may first appear.