Numerous Nation readers have written us asking for suggestions on where they can send funds to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina. For straight donations, the American Red Cross is probably as good an outfit as any in the field currently taking contributions. ARC volunteers have been deployed to the hardest hit areas of Katrina’s destruction, supplying hundreds of thousands of victims left homeless with critical necessities. Click here to make a dedicated donation to this relief effort.

The Mercy Corps has also assembled a team of relief experts in Louisiana to assist in immediate humanitarian efforts and to plan a long-term strategy to help the most vulnerable survivors of Hurricane Katrina rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Click here to help this longtime progressive relief agency respond effectively to the short-and long-term needs of hurricane survivors.

Our friends at have spearheaded another innovative way to help. encourages people to donate a short-term place to stay for those made homeless by the disaster. Already, more than 50,000 beds have been offered to our new American refugees. Places in the Southeast are most useful but people anywhere in the US can participate.

It’s also worth supporting a group of progressive congressional Democrats who have introduced legislation to protect the thousands of people left financially devastated by Hurricane Katrina from being penalized by anti-debtor provisions contained in the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. This unfair law, designed to protect the rich at the expense of the poor, is scheduled to take effect on October 17, 2005. Click here to let your own elected reps know that you expect them to support this bill.

Finally, for a sense of the magnitude of the tragedy, listen to an incredible radio interview with Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, who pulls absolutely no punches. This is as real, and raw, and as heartbreaking as it gets.

With this post, I depart for my summer vacation. I’ll be back in this space on Saturday, September 10. In the meantime, my colleague Joan Connell will update this post, if necessary, to ensure that we’re highlighting the most effective relief efforts underway.