Hurricane Katrina Information
Message from the President: Helping However We Can
The hurricane that ravaged the Gulf Coast has left a trail of devastation almost impossible to imagine. Communities across the coastal regions of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina, which flattened homes and businesses and rendered hundreds of thousands of people homeless. In New Orleans the full scale of the tragedy continues to unfold.
At Penn, our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, as well as those who are anxiously awaiting news about friends and family members. We also extend our deepest sympathy to the many people who survived the storm but now have no homes to return to. As they face the overwhelming task of rebuilding lives shattered beyond comprehension we wish them strength and courage.
Our community has taken numerous steps to provide assistance to those in need. For the fall semester at Penn, we have accepted 100 Philadelphia-area undergraduates who had been enrolled at colleges and universities in the hurricane stricken areas. We are still accepting applications from interested graduate students. Further, many of our student organizations have already raised significant funds for hurricane relief efforts and many more such initiatives are planned.
If you would like to contribute to relief efforts, you may use the links to the websites of organizations that are helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Please keep those who have been affected by this catastrophe and those who are assisting them in your thoughts and prayers.
Dr. Amy Gutmann
Where To Donate
The following agencies are providing assistance for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts:
American Red Cross
American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania
America’s Second Harvest
Animal Relief Organizations
B’nai B’rith International
Catholic Charities USA
For links to these agencies and other resources as well as the individual school responses, campus resources, and a list of student-led efforts and other initiatives, visit www.upenn.edu/pennnews/hurricane2.php
Mail to Southeastern United States
The recent hurricane has caused significant damage to the southeastern area of the United States, particularly in Louisiana and Mississippi. This is having a great impact on mail service and express package delivery to these areas.
USPS Mail Services: Please note that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will only guarantee delivery of first class mail to these areas. USPS will hold first class mail until it can be delivered. Because of storage limitations, USPS will have to destroy other classes and rates of mail to hurricane-ravaged areas (including the non-profit and bulk mail classes commonly used for Penn departmental mail). For more detailed information, including the impacted zip codes, please visit the United States Postal Services website at www.usps.gov.
Express Package Delivery: At this time, express carriers are only able to offer limited service to affected areas. The carriers will return undeliverable packages to sender. For details and updated information, please visit carrier websites.
Paid Release Time for Volunteers
In response to Hurricane Katrina, President Amy Gutmann announced that Penn faculty and staff interested in volunteering for organizations involved in hurricane relief efforts may be granted up to 3 consecutive weeks (15 consecutive working days) of paid administrative leave. Guidelines for release time include:
1. All decisions will be at the discretion of the School/Center and should consider School/Center operational needs.
2. Release time may be granted for faculty and regular full-time and part-time staff.
3. Release time may only be granted for official volunteer operations requiring travel to the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
4. Individuals requesting release time should provide management with appropriate documentation supporting the request.
5. Paid leave will be for regular hours worked, and will not count against paid time off balances.
6. Requests for additional time off will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with normal University policies.
These guidelines are designed to assist managers; the decision to grant release time is at the sole discretion of the School/Center. The provisions outlined above will apply to time away from work up to and including October 31, 2005. Based on facts and circumstances, these provisions may be modified at a future date.
—Division of Human Resources
Financial Assistance for Penn Students from Areas Affected
Penn has set up a program to provide financial assistance to enrolled Penn students from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. To ease financial problems caused by the disaster, Penn will help affected students and families meet the cost of attendance by providing student account advances and deferments, as well as waiving late payment penalties. This applies to both aided and non-aided students. Financial aid packages will be evaluated to address individual circumstances, once those are known. Counselors in Student Financial Services will work closely with each student and family to provide appropriate help during this very difficult time.
Some Student-Led Initiatives
An Inter-Faith Hurricane Relief Event, Thursday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m. Hall of Flags, Houston Hall. A prayer and remembrance service including a combination of prayers, readings, and speeches from the different faiths. Representatives from aid organizations have been invited to speak about the needs of hurricane victims along the Gulf Coast. $5 suggested donation.
The Underground Shakespeare Company presents Love’s Labour’s Lost, Friday, September 16, 7:15 and 10:15 p.m. and Saturday, September 17, 9:30 p.m. on College Green (Rain Location: Rooftop Lounge, Harnwell College House). There is no set admission cost, but the proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
American Red Cross Blood Drive, Monday, September 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., sponsored by SNAP (Student Nurses At Penn). Hall of Flags, Houston Hall. Make an appointment now: http://givesblood.org/go.php?bdc=108257 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charitable Laughter, Saturday, September 24, 8 p.m., Iron Gate Theatre. Penn’s comedy troupes—Mask and Wig, Bloomers, Without A Net, and Simply Chaos—present the 3rd annual Charitable Laughter. Tickets: $6 on Locust Walk the week before the show, and $8 at the door. Proceeds will go toward Hurricane Katrina Relief.
Please review the following document that was sent to us from the FBI. Caution should be used when considering donating to persons soliciting for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
—Captain Joseph D. Fischer, Commanding Officer-Patrol Division, UPPD
FBI Advisory September 7, 2005—Hurricane Katrina Scams Alert
Similar to the Tsunami scams which surfaced last winter, there has been a rapid increase in websites and associated SPAM being deployed; purporting to be legitimate fund-raising efforts for the victims of the recent Hurricane and subsequent massive flooding in the Gulf coast region. Over the past week there have been more than 500 sites advertising Hurricane Katrina relief services. On Friday, September 2, there were approximately 300 established on that day alone.
The challenge is to quickly analyze and assess those sites which appear to be illegitimate and to develop a strategy to ascertain the responsible parties and ensure the safety of the public, who research these sites. In order to do this, the FBI relies heavily on key partnerships established with both law enforcement (domestically and abroad) and in many cases with the well known charitable organizations, whose good names are being used to give credibility to the scammers.
As with the Tsunami fraud scams, the FBI continues to enlist substantial cooperation from its law enforcement partners, particularly the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, and a vast array of state and local agencies. As many of these scams involve international aspects, our growing partnership with international law enforcement will be vital in efficiently following and capturing the evidence trail.
Several matters have been developed and referred out for investigation throughout the FBI. We expect the number of investigative referrals to increase over the next several weeks.
Those who desire to contribute to the Hurricane Katrina funds should carefully research the organizations soliciting funds to ensure the monies donated will be used as guaranteed. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends investigating any charity soliciting a donation with consumer organizations such as the American Institute of Philanthropy at www.charitywatch.org or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at www.give.org.
Information on suspicious solicitations or websites can be reported to The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), via www.IC3.gov. Anyone with information concerning a scam related to Hurricane Katrina victims is encouraged to contact the FBI at (215) 418-4000.
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 3, September 13, 2005