South Shore steps up to help hurricane victims | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Shore steps up to help hurricane victims

Susan Wood

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Tahoe Manor caregiver Christy Prax, left, and owner Judy Brown put the finishing touches on a room Monday. The facility has 49 total beds, 18 of which Brown is offering to Hurricane Katrina victims.

Katrina relief efforts for the South Lake Tahoe area have turned out to be as widespread as the devastating hurricane’s reach.

As of Monday, local service clubs, grocery stores, a nursing home, hotel, businesses, a doctor and other individuals have given or plan to give to the cause in helping the thousands of people displaced or injured from the storm that ravaged the Gulf Coast on Aug. 25.

Alan Anselmi of Zephyr Cove helped his New Orleans friends left destitute by the hurricane by collecting $4,400 through a raffle on Sunday at a party in a Kingsbury Grade home.

“The generosity was touching,” he said Monday, after counting the money from the Labor Day party.

Anselmi’s New Orleans companion, Steve Rowell, needs money for about 30 of his family members to get back on their feet since their homes were flooded. The money will be earmarked for transportation, hotel rooms and food over the next few months.

Rowell, whose home is under 4 feet of water, told Anselmi in a letter that having five unaccounted family members is “not the best of news” and poses even more of a hardship than getting the remaining loved ones a place to stay. It has become a one-day-at-a-time scenario.

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For those in need of shelter, Judy Brown has opened up Tahoe Manor Guest Home’s 18 beds to Gulf Coast seniors with no place to go.

“You look at what’s happening, and it’s hard to know where to start,” said Brown, who remains the owner of the Gardner Mountain facility after a failed attempt at selling it. Brown feels she’s where she belongs – especially now.

“When they opened up one (Louisiana) nursing home and found 80 people dead, it broke my heart when I saw that,” she said.

Brown, who is often civic minded, went to work putting her place on http://www.craigslist.com and other assisted living Web sites as a shelter site. She also contacted the city public information officer for Houston.

Jan McCarthy, who runs the Tahoe Colony Inn, is also offering her South Shore hotel rooms for the displaced. She placed her intentions on the Web site for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and at http://www.shareahome.org.

“We’ve got room. Our community could definitely rally around families and adopt them. I want the whole community to get involved,” she said Monday.

Indeed, others have answered the call.

Safeway manager Tom Nobriega said his South Lake Tahoe store has undergone its “best ever” donation drive. Safeway has taken part in fund-raising drives for treatment and research of breast and prostate cancer as well as muscular dystrophy.

“In three days, we’ve collected $5,691 for hurricane relief,” Nobriega said. “I’d like to thank the locals.”

Safeway was joined by Albertsons and Raley’s in collecting cash donations designated for the American Red Cross.

Sue Novasel, an active member of the South Lake Tahoe community, counted about $3,000 she’s collected in a Bank of the West account. She set up a jar at the Lake Tahoe Air Fest.

“I’m just trying to raise awareness. It’s sad. I can tell you that with my work for the (Lake Tahoe Unified) School District, this is one of the poorest areas in the country,” she said. “All we can do is try to help each other.”

That’s the sentiment Dr. Stephen Bannar had in mind when he decided to help.

The orthopedist put his name in a medical reserve corps run out of the Department of Health and Human Services. State and local government organizations have just started to mobilize. And the California Nurses Association is sending a crew of nurses to Stone County Hospital in Wiggins, Miss., a small health care facility 40 miles north of Gulfport.

Bannar said he wished more could be done, expressing frustration over the National Guard being tapped out because units have been sent overseas.

“Imagine how far that $250 billion (in Iraq efforts) could go,” he said, frustrated. “But we can all complain. Now’s the time to just do something.”

Bannar wasn’t alone in the call of duty.

Brenda Rogers, who owns High Sierra Adventure Sports, set up a canister four days ago for Red Cross collections at her watercraft touring business on Harrison Avenue.

“I’ve been a volunteer kind of person my entire life. I’d like to teach my daughter how to be a good Samaritan,” she said.

Daunelle Wulstein said she was proud of her daughters, Devynn, 8, and Katarina, 6, for coming up with the idea of directing the proceeds from their South Lake Tahoe yard sale to the American Red Cross. Wulstein sold her items and other friends’ merchandise and placed a jar out for donations – which totaled $810.30 by the end of Saturday. The two girls had also set up a lemonade stand.

“It’s heartbreaking what these people are going through,” Wulstein said.

Rick Devin said he’ll use his musical talent and Colorado company to help others. Devin, who once worked at Zephyr Cove Resort, has pledged all the proceeds from the sales of his compact discs to the Red Cross.

“My wife and I traveled that area extensively a couple years back, and these images are just horrifying,” he said in an e-mail to friends. The $9.99 purchases can be made at http://www.cdbaby.com.

Kiwanis Club of Tahoe Sierra plans to divert proceeds from its Oktoberfest scheduled Sept. 21 at the Horizon Casino Resort to the Louisiana chapter of the youth service organization.

This week, California Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, has teamed up with the Salvation Army by encouraging Sacramento residents and visitors to the state Capitol to give to the relief drive. In addition to cash, credit-card donations and greeting cards, they’re asking for prepaid phone cards and gift cards from Lowes, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. The effort is staged today through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 10th Street between N and L streets.