After the flood

No warning. That’s what’s truly astonishing, that the victims—77,000 dead as of this writing, and counting—of the tsunami that devastated countries on two continents had no warning, even though the earthquake that caused the wave happened hours earlier. Scientists as far away as Hawaii and Alaska knew what was about to hit India and Sri Lanka, but residents of those countries did not. That, in a nutshell, is the difference between poor and rich countries, between the have-nots and the haves.

There are lessons to be learned here—about the need for greater resource sharing, especially. And we are again reminded of the Earth’s power to cast all our petty human squabbles into sharp relief. But that doesn’t begin to diminish the sadness we feel from knowing that so much pain is being felt right now. We cannot do it justice. Television news programs seque from scenes of drowned children being washed ashore to sports highlights, and we struggle to process the surreal nature of our media world.

It’s better just to do something. Here are the addresses of reputable agencies now working to bring relief to victims, rebuild communities and stop the spread of disease. Send them a check. Help your brothers and sisters on Planet Earth.

American Jewish World Service, 45 West 36th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018, 800-889-7146 (

American Red Cross, International Response Fund, PO Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013, 800-HELP NOW (

Catholic Relief Services, PO Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090, 800-736-3467 (

Doctors Without Borders, PO Box 2247, New York, NY 10116-2247, 888-392-0392 (

International Medical Corps, 11500 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 506, Los Angeles, CA 90064, 800-481-4462 (

Mercy Corps, PO Box 2669, Portland, OR 97208, 800-852-2100 (

Operation USA, 8320 Melrose Ave., Ste. 200, Los Angeles, CA 90069, 800-678-7255 (