In what the executive director of the Douglas County American Red Cross called a "phenomenal" response, Lawrence and Douglas County residents have sent almost $20,000 to the agency to help victims of two recent natural disasters that struck the United States.
Jo Byers said Tuesday that her agency has received $19,759 in disaster relief checks for victims of Hurricane Hugo and the San Francisco-area earthquake. She said the national office of the American Red Cross had set a goal for the Douglas County office of about $16,000 a level that was surpassed long ago.
Officials with the Salvation Army in Lawrence said they do not have an updated figure for disaster relief donations, but said the amount is ll over $1,000.
Byers said the response of local residents makes Red Cross workers feel their work is appreciated.
"It says that people care about the Red Cross and trust and approve of what we're doing," she said. "It makes us feel good."
Of the checks sent to the Red Cross that are designated to go to a specific area, Byers said 60 percent are being sent to California for earthquake relief and 40 percent for hurricane relief in South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But Byers said many checks come in without any area being specified, and the Red Cross is sending them to where the money is most needed.
Of the three Lawrence-area volunteers who went to Puerto Rico to help with the relief effort, only Mary Thomas remains there, Byers said. Duane Roberts returned last week, and Bob Timmons returned about three weeks ago.
Byers said Thomas, who is a social worker and has helped with other disaster efforts, probably would stay in Puerto Rico until after Thanksgiving.