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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Katrina sparks mass US aid giving
Advertisements for transportation and jobs at the Houston Astrodome
Offers of jobs and homes are being made to hurricane survivors
Americans have rallied to give an unprecedented amount of aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

They have already pledged around $587m (319m) - more than initial donations for 9/11 and the Asian tsunami - according to a newspaper that tracks charitable giving.

But it is not just money that Americans, touched by the tragedy unfolding on their doorstep, are giving.

They have opened their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods to help the hundreds of thousands affected by the storm.

Dozens of adverts offering free accommodation, jobs and relocation packages have been posted on websites.

Shannon Hunter is offering a home to a single mother of two or three children in a "great neighbourhood" of Asheville, North Carolina, close to an "excellent school".

She told the BBC that, being a mother herself, "I think right now the kids and the single moms really need a lot of help".

It's really, really hard to need things all the time; we need everything, down to toothbrushes and toothpaste
Julie Gravois
New Orleans evacuee

A small manufacturing firm near Topeka in Kansas is advertising for three skilled machinists and says it will give priority to victims of the hurricane.

Brad Wenger, Vice-President of Wenger Manufacturing, says it is a chance to offer longer-term benefits to people, but denies it exploits their misfortune.

"We have a need for several machinist positions so if someone's willing to relocate, that would also help us and hopefully we can help them out also," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

Brad Snook, who has offered rooms in his Chicago apartment, said: "I don't know how you couldn't come to this decision when you see what people have gone through".

Fraudulent websites

Town councils, places of worship and community groups have gathered together supplies of clothing, nappies, food and water for the states devastated by the hurricane.

Celebrities have joined the effort, offering donations or getting involved hands-on in the relief effort.

US AID PLEDGES
$61.bn - US government
$587m - US donations*
*According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Black music stars such as Diddy and Jay-Z have given large donations and appealed for aid to help the African-American communities most affected by the tragedy.

"These people in the dome listen to our music," said hip-hop star Timbaland in an appeal to his peers for donations.

The American Red Cross says it has already received $485m in gifts and pledges. It is "the largest response to a single disaster" in its history, says vice-president Joe Becker.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy newspaper, which tracks the contributions, has calculated that Americans have given at least $587m.

This compares with $239m in the 10 days after the 9/11 attacks, and $163m collected nine days after the tsunami.

However, amid the generosity, the FBI has warned of fraudulent websites popping up on the internet purporting to help hurricane survivors.

FBI assistant director Louis Reigel says new sites are appearing "faster than we can pound them down" and urges people wishing to contribute to contact well-known organisations.

World upside-down

Julie Gravois and her three children used to live in a two-storey house in New Orleans, near to one of the levees breached by the storm.

They left with nothing on the Sunday before the storm, thinking they would soon be able to return.

Oprah Winfrey visits evacuees at the Houston Astrodome
Oprah Winfrey is one of the high-profile visitors to evacuee shelters

Now most of their home is under water and they are living with her sister Jeanne at Fairfax Station in Virginia on the east coast.

She has been able to put her two younger children in school and is grateful to have a "great sister" who will let them stay as long as they need to.

But they all miss home and, she admits, finding it hard to adapt to their new circumstances.

"I'm a single mom, I have three jobs and I'm not used to having people give to me," the 37-year-old legal secretary told BBC News.

"It's really, really hard to need things all the time; we need everything, down to toothbrushes and toothpaste."




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