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Australia’s Katrina

Dear Editor:

Aspen and Australia enjoy many things in common, not the least being the many, many Australians who work here and some of whom have emigrated here. Most would agree the Australians who work here and live here have added enormously to the life and color of the town and the valley.

The country of Australia has also been a close friend to the Untied States. During the Vietnam war Australia sent troupes to fight with Americans without asking questions. They are doing the same in Afghanistan. While one can object to the purpose, as many of us have, one must admire the willingness of Australians to lend us a hand when we need help. Today it is time that we give back to Australia.

Australia has been hit recent weeks by a horrible string of storms. After years of droughts the country is now experiencing once-in-one-hundred-year storms. An area of Queensland (the state on the northeast coast of the continent) greater than the state of Texas has been flooded. Farmers who had experienced bad crops for years had rejoiced at the rains, only to see everything destroyed. This is literally Australia’s Katrina.

The Australian government is mobilizing to fight the aftereffects of the storms but no government, no matter how rich, can do it alone. The Australian National Broadcasting Network has posted a list of charities that are collecting money to help. One is the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal which is being run by the government of Queensland. Emma Ayres, a cellist and viola player who hosts a morning classical music program on ABC Classical FM, has been busking around Sydney raising money for this charity. Many others are doing the same. However, they cannot do it alone.

References of agencies taking donations can be found at abc.net.au/emergency. Many of the sites will take online donations. I strongly suggest, though, that you consider sending a check. Banks will charge you significant currency conversion charges for on-line donations that can raise the cost to you by two or three percent. On the other hand, the recipient will pay an conversion charge on a check. I strongly hope and believe that the Australian banks converting checks in American dollars will forgo their normal fees for donations made to relieve the suffering.

However, it is less important how you donate than you donate. This is a major disaster. It is time we give back.

Philip Verleger

Carbondale


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