Open Letter to Canada From U.S. Ambassador David H. Wilkins
By U.S. Embassy
Sep 8, 2005, 14:43
"There for Us Again Early and Eagerly"
September 6, 2005
Four years after the devastating terror attacks of September 11, 2001, my country finds itself once again hurting deeply.
And today - just as it did four years ago - Canada has come to our aid early and eagerly.
On behalf of my grateful country: Thank you Canada for once again being there when we need you the most.
Hurricane Katrina is the worst natural disaster the United States has faced in modern history. The death and destruction wrought by this powerful storm is so massive it is difficult to comprehend.
But we do know for certain we cannot face it alone. Just as Canadians helped shoulder our grief and pain in the wake of 9-11, we feel your support now. And it is a real comfort - a reminder that humanity at its best is far more forceful and powerful than any storm.
Eight weeks into my new job as U.S. Ambassador, I have been inspired by the warmth and friendship of the Canadian people as I've traveled your great country. While much emphasis often is placed on a few issues in which we differ, I have found a deep appreciation and respect for each other and a desire to reach common ground.
Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of aid, offers of support and kind gestures of sympathy coming from every quarter across the country.
Prime Minister Martin and Deputy Prime Minister McLellan immediately offered any help when and where we need it including critical supplies from the National Emergency Stockpile System.
General Hillier offered the assistance of Canadian military forces and three Canadian ships have sailed from Halifax loaded with supplies, generators, helicopters, medical and search teams, and water purification systems.
An elite emergency rescue team from Vancouver has already been deployed and is on the ground near New Orleans working side by side with Louisiana state troopers.
Canada's premiers as well as numerous mayors and other officials have offered help as well - everything from teams of electrical personnel and equipment to paramedics, police, firefighters and medical materials, food, clothing - even offers to house the homeless.
Likewise, Canada's business community is there for us making a tangible difference in the hardest hit areas. Katrina was still battering our shores when Air Canada was implementing its plan to offer transport help. Air Canada was the first foreign carrier to arrive in New Orleans and quickly began its mission of mercy, transporting stranded flood victims to safety.
From the pharmaceutical industry and lumber producers, to Canadian citizens whose generous financial contributions are pouring in, to the many Canadian Red Cross workers who make it their life's work to ease the lives of those in suffering - the United States is profoundly humbled and grateful.
I also want to express my appreciation to Canadians of all faiths. No matter the denomination or religious affiliation, all are playing their important part in this massive relief effort. I believe in the power of prayer and I thank those who are remembering the victims of Hurricane Katrina and praying for the safety and success of all those now involved in rescue and clean-up efforts.
Last week the governor of Mississippi made a statement that has stayed with me. He said, "Disasters like this bring out the best in most people and the worst in some."
Thank you Canada for giving us your very best - your treasure, your talent and your time.
You were there for us in the wake of 9-11.
You're here for us now.
With your continued support, and God's grace, the United States will overcome both the sorrow and the challenges we face.
And we will remember and always honor you who helped us get there.
From another article.
Canadians arrive days before US Army
A Canadian search and rescue team travelled 2,200 miles and was in a ruined neighbourhood of New Orleans five days before the US military arrived on the scene, it emerged today.
The team of 50 rescue specialists from Vancouver arrived in St Bernard Parish, a New Orleans suburb devastated by the floods, last Wednesday, just as American authorities started to drop supplies from the air. The US Army arrived the following Monday.
"Fabulous, fabulous guys," said the Louisiana state senator, Walter Boasso. "They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people. We’ve got Canadian flags flying everywhere."
The secret of their success? "They chartered a plane and flew down," said Mr Boasso. "Why does it take them seven days to get the Army in?"