Florida Hurricane Relief Fund Worried Potential Donors Are Tapped Out

Volunteers opened phone lines Tuesday at a special Hurricane Relief Hotline. The Florida Hurricane Relief Fund raised money for last year’s storm victims, and now it’s turning its attention to those affected by Wilma.

But fundraisers fear donations may be few and far between because so many people have already given to Hurricane Katrina victims.

Volunteers working the phones at the relief fund took in $21 million for victims of the deadly 2004 season. Now they’re hoping to get the phones ringing for Wilma’s victims.

Fund Administrator Liza McFadden says money raised goes to needs not met by other organizations like FEMA or the Red Cross, things like helping the elderly pay insurance deductibles, or homeless families pay for child care.

“Wilma cut a swath from one end of the state to the other and there are a lot of folks who live in mobile homes who are not rich with tons of boats that are getting washed up on the side, and we really want to reach out and help them.”

The relief fund is now airing television and radio public service announcements to encourage donations.

But so many people have called in to donate to other organizations for hurricane Katrina victims that the “Volunteer Florida” folks worry generous givers may be tapped out.

People have pledged more than $1 billion to the Red Cross for Rita and Katrina victims. McFadden hopes they may still have a little left.

“We know that folks have given to Katrina, and that’s why, again, we’re kind of really asking folks to say, even if it’s small, it’s still appreciated.”

The needs for Wilma’s victims will be huge. Fundraisers just hope the generous spirit for Katrina’s victims will start phones ringing for those hit by Wilma.

Managers of the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund say more than 99 percent of money donated goes directly to help victims. Less than one percent is used for administrative costs.

To find out how to donate to hurricane Wilma victims, log onto www.flahurricanefund.org or call 1-800-825-3786.