Canadian army ready to aid U.S.

September 2nd, 2005  

Topic: Canadian army ready to aid U.S.

Canadian army ready to aid U.S.

Canadian Press vis Sun Media ^ | 2005-09-02 | John Ward

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada will send the United States any help needed in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, Prime Minister Paul Martin told President George W. Bush on Thursday.

"If you need help, just ask and we'll be there," he told Bush in a 15-minute phone call that was to have been a sharp discussion of the softwood lumber dispute but instead became a call of sympathy and condolence. Martin said Bush didn't ask for help, but predicted he will.

"They're in the process of trying to put all the co-ordination together and they're going to take us up on it," the prime minister said in Edmonton.

"They're trying to determine their needs right now."

White House spokesman Scott McLellan said a number of countries have offered aid.

"We are open to all offers of assistance from other nations, and I would expect that we would take people up on offers of assistance when it's necessary."

The Canadian military put troops on standby and prepared to load a ship with gear and equipment that could be useful in the aftermath of the great storm that wrecked much of the American Gulf Coast and devastated New Orleans.

The Canadian Red Cross was sending a team of 100 to 200 experienced disaster workers to bolster the American Red Cross staff in the region.

Martin, attending provincial centennial celebrations in Edmonton, told a sympathetic crowd of his talk with Bush.

"I expressed our condolences and our sympathies and I confirmed Canada stands with those who have suffered so much in Katrina's wake.

"I said on your behalf that, if you need help, just ask and we'll be there, now and in the weeks and months ahead. That we will do whatever we can for as long as it takes to help our neighbour and our friend deal with this terrible, terrible tragedy."

Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said he spoke with his American counterpart, Gen. Dick Myers, to offer assistance.

He said Myers thanked him, but said the Pentagon is still analyzing what is needed.

Hillier said the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART, which can provide medical care, power and clean water, could head south on 48 hours notice.

He said Canada could provide transport planes or helicopters, electrical generators, water purification systems, small boats for navigating the waterways of the region and engineering equipment and expertise.

He said his staff are planning to load a selection of such gear about a warship to be ready in the event Washington asks for help.

It's best to be prepared, he said.

"We want to help. We believe that's what being friends and allies is all about."

In September 1992, after hurricane Andrew struck Florida, a Canadian naval supply ship was sent in with more than 250 people who helped in rebuilding.

Suzanne Charest of the Canadian Red Cross said a team of 100 - perhaps as many as 200 - volunteers is being assembled for relief work.

"We're recruiting only from our existing pool of experienced people," she said.

The workers will help with the logistics of moving and supporting relief workers. They will assist with family services among the homeless and displaced and in feeding people in some of the 270 shelters being run by the American Red Cross.

"They are providing 500,000 hot meals a day in conjunction with the Southern Baptists," Charest said.

The Red Cross is also collecting cash donations for the relief work.

She said the American Red Cross estimated its operations will cost more than $130 million.

"That's without having done a full assessment."

Foreign Affairs says people who wish to send help should contribute to a reputable aid agency, such as the Red Cross.

Canada has also offered to open up its national emergency stockpiles if needed. They contain portable hospital units, complete with beds, blankets and pharmaceuticals.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has spoken to David Wilkins, the American ambassador, to offer help.

The province's health ministry has offered an emergency medical team and various hydro operations have offered teams skilled in restoring power. Hundreds of thousands are without electricity in the region.

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September 2nd, 2005  
That's great! totally opposite what the German Minister of the environment had to say. You know you can always count on our friends to the north!