The United States is helping Bangladesh recover from the devastation of Cyclone Sidr. As of November 22nd, the Bangladeshi government’s Disaster Management Bureau reported that the cyclone affected a little under seven million persons, resulted in almost three thousand deaths, and led to the disappearance of a little over seventeen hundred people. Relief organizations on the ground indicated that actual figures of deaths and missing persons may be higher than government of Bangladesh figures.
President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush expressed America’s sympathy for the victims of the disaster. The U.S. is providing funds for immediate emergency relief. The USS Kearsarge, a U.S. Navy ship sent to assist humanitarian relief efforts, is now in Bangladesh. The ship carries twenty helicopters, which will help bring food, water, and medical supplies to survivors in remote areas. Bangladeshi authorities, U.S. government agencies, and relief organizations are now determining how the U.S. military can best provide medical, transportation, engineering, and communication assistance. “We are here to help the people in their time of need,” said Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.
Even before Cyclone Sidr made landfall in Bangladesh, the U.S. Agency for International Development prepared boats, water treatment systems, and water ambulances for emergency use there. In cooperation with private relief organizations, USAID helped pre-position emergency survival packages and food stockpiles for distribution after the storm.
Suzanne Brooks is director of the Center for International Disaster Information. She says Americans are being urged to send cash donations to “allow workers already in the region to have the resources to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of the Bangladeshi people.” Ms. Brooks says it is important to remember that for Bangladeshi disaster victims, “there will be ongoing needs for months and perhaps years to come as people try to put their lives together again.”
U.S. Aid for International Development Administrator Henriette Fore says the U.S. is committed to helping the people of Bangladesh. “Our desire,” she said, “is to build a strong and long-term partnership with Bangladesh.”