POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

America's Contribution to Tsunami Relief

by David Trumbull

January 14, 2005

While I relaxed in Florida over Christmas, emailing in to the Post-Gazette a frothy column anticipating President Bush's inaugural festivities, I looked back on a good 2004. All my family enjoyed good health, the Red Sox had won the World Championship, and the elections brought Republican victories. Who knew that the final sentence to be written on the old year would be a devastating tsunami in South Asia?

The man running U.S. relief efforts is a Bay Stater, a former State Representative, and, for a time, the head of the Central Artery "Big Dig" --Andrew S. Natsios. You'll recall, the wave struck on Sunday morning (our time) and immediately the U.S. Agency for International Development responded. As Natsios said in an official statement a couple of days after the tsunami: "After the most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered tidal waves Sunday that killed more than 119,000 people, USAID moved into action even before I had left church. "

According to Natsios, "The staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development set up internal task forces to prepare to deliver aid to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, India and other affected countries. The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance began moving staff from its regional base in Bangkok to assess damage and extend assistance. By Monday, barely 24 hours after the tsunami hit, the initial U.S. commitment was $15 million to start up our government's response to the crisis."

Over the following days, as the needs were identified the monetary commitment of the U.S. government quickly swelled to $350 million. Individual Americans and businesses have added many tens of millions above that, and combined government and private relief efforts will increase as ongoing needs are identified.

According to Natsios, the United States gave $2.4 billion in humanitarian relief in 2004, [and that's not counting the money for tsunami relief in South Asia]. Did you know that the U.S. gives about 40 percent of all emergency aid given by all donors combined? No, the "mainstream media" doesn't want you to know that!

Sadly, the major U.S. newspapers, broadcast television networks, along with the United Nations, see the disaster in South Asia as nothing more than another opportunity to vent their reflexive hatred for the United States. Fortunately for the victims of this and other natural disasters around the globe, the American people responded, as they always do, with an outpouring of money, manpower, reconstruction materials, and medical aid.


David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.