August 29, 2006
Even though Katrina hit the hardest many miles away, local people felt compelled to help others who really needed it.
Their support shows that kindness has no limit.
Today we take a look back at the local generosity that stretched to the Gulf Coast.
After Hurricane Katrina left a devastating mark last year, the people of our area were more than willing to lend a helping hand.
"We want to make them comfortable, clean, and give them back their dignity...treat them like human beings and not animals," said volunteer Jewel Sherrill.
Everyone from church members to charities pitched in to help those who lost their homes, pets, and, for some, even their family members.
Members of the New Life Christian Center used all their resources to provide a disaster relief shelter to victims who fled New Orleans and sought refuge in Augusta.
"We have three doctors in our church who are going to help and lots of nurses who are going to do some triage and see if we can give them some medical attention if needed," said Phillip Maxwell, assistant minister.
The church teamed up with FEMA to help victims.
Then there are people like Leo Capria of the Aiken Red Cross. He was one of the first local volunteers to leave for the Gulf Coast.
"Whatever I can do there to lessen the burden is what I'm going to do," he said.
Soldiers from Fort Gordon also were sent to there to help with communications.
Deputies helped with security.
Columbia County sent its community emergency response team.
Of course, local power crews joined the huge effort to restore electricity.
The Southern Baptist Convention sent feeding trailers to cook for volunteers. They could serve 5000 meals a day.
And for those who couldn't go to the coast, there was a way to help right here. News 12 and Clear Channel Radio teamed up for Gulf Aid.
Countless numbers of you showed up at local Wal-Marts to donate and help victims through the American Red Cross.
In all, you raised at least $275,000 for the immediate needs of people right after Katrina ruined their homes and lives.
Finally, we can't forget 76-year-old Gerald Martin of New Orleans.
Trapped in his attic for 18 days after the storm, he sipped a little water each day to stay alive and was finally rescued and re-united with his son and his family in Augusta.
His was the ultimate story of survival, hope and faith in the future.