Hurricane Katrina this past week was certainly the worst episode in what has become an all-too-familiar and tragic cycle, and our nation is now faced with a set of unprecedented challenges.
Never in our country's history have we witnessed a natural disaster that has impacted so many people in such a wide area. In fact, as of the writing of this column, millions of people along the Gulf Coast have been displaced from their homes in a period of only five days.
While the level of support we can each provide certainly varies, it is very important at this time that we all do what we can to help our neighbors - not only our immediate neighbors here in Alabama, but those further away in Mississippi and Louisiana.
There has certainly been criticism of the timing involved in getting help to the victims of the storm, and much of it may indeed be warranted. However, this is not the time for pointing fingers; rather, it is the time for offering a helping hand to our neighbors in need.
Dr. Rice went well beyond offering a helping hand - she went so far as to shed tears and share hugs with those who, in a matter of just a few hours, had lost everything to the rising floodwaters.
It is during difficult times like this that the true American spirit reveals itself. I am not talking only of the response of local, state, and federal governments, although they will each play an extremely important role in this effort.
Nearly two weeks have passed since Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast, and while we are still dealing with the tremendous devastation - and will be for quite some time - we are also seeing increased signs of recovery and help in our region.
Members of al Qaeda and other affiliated organizations spent a great deal of time blending into the populations of several nations around the world and exploring all aspects of life there.
In an effort to provide my constituents with information on how they can make contributions to a number of relief and humanitarian organizations, I have posted a short list of these groups and contact numbers on my Internet website.
Relief organizations both large and small are coordinating deliveries of food, clothing, water, and other basic necessities to those impacted by Katrina.
Since the September 11 attacks, nearly 400 individuals have been arrested by the Justice Department as a result of ongoing investigations into international terrorism. Of that total, over half were convicted as a result of their actions.
While the debate on the Patriot Act is far from over, it is important that all Americans continue in this dialogue and work together to ensure greater security for our nation.
There is one final point I would like to make this week. As I said on the floor of the House during deliberation of this latest supplemental, hope is something Americans should never lose. Let each of us, both by our words and actions, continue to provide that hope.
Towns and cities throughout the United States have opened their hearts and homes to thousands of families displaced from their homes as a result of this horrific storm.
President Bush, Secretary of State Rice, and several cabinet level officials have visited Alabama's Gulf Coast in recent days to tour the devastation and to offer their continuing support and prayers for everyone affected by the storm.
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