The Category 4 storm hit the southern coast early Monday morning Aug. 29 and left behind it a swath of death and destruction from New Orleans to the Florida panhandle. The miles of levees that surround and protect the city, which lies below sea level, from surrounding waters and storms, broke in several places on Tuesday, submerging most of the streets and buildings under several feet of water. City officials, who had overseen the evacuation of much of the population prior to the storm, were forced to declare the metropolis uninhabitable and abandon it.
The storm is now considered the greatest natural disaster ever to befall the United States, and the death roll is expected to match or exceed that of the 1906 San Francisco fire, which claimed 6,000 lives. Many residents are still trapped within city limits and rescue efforts continue. Food and water supplies are dwindling and looting is widespread.
Officials have stated that it may be weeks before citizens can return and any city services can be restored. President Bush, surveying the damage from a plane, said the restoration effort with take tens of billions of dollars and last several years.
The Hurricane also devestated other coastal cities, such as Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, large sections of which are now largely gone.
The Red Cross expects the relief effort to be the biggest in the organization's history. The BC/EFA check was sent directly to the Washington D.C. office of the Red Cross "expressly for emergency efforts and on-going relief aid being provided to the citizens of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast."
Broadway Cares stated that if any company felt it would like to do more, BC/EFA will gladly act as the fiscal agent for any funds raised.