County pitches in to help flood victims in Midwest

August 03, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

When 13-year-old Katie O'Donnell saw television coverage of pets and animals endangered by Midwest flooding, she decided to do something about it.

She wrote Gov. William Donald Schaefer a letter telling him how sad she was about the flooding and she enclosed $3 to help with the relief effort.

Her brother Manny saw what she was doing and wanted to help, too.

"I'm 7 1/2 ," he wrote the governor. "I'm very sorry about the flood. Here is $2."

Their parents, Columbia residents Manus and Pat O'Donnell, were not aware of their children's contributions until a Baltimore television station called last week and asked for an interview.

"It's neat to see what a real interview is like," said Katie, who had done some interviewing of her own at school last year.

"We just wanted to do a job -- we didn't know reporters would be showing up," said Manny, sounding very grown up.

"Two dollars may not seem like very much, but if everybody in the state gave $2, Maryland could have quite an impact," Mr. O'Donnell said.

The Howard County government, meanwhile, is looking not for money but for supplies this week to help flood victims in northwestern Missouri.

"We had gotten some things together for Florida," County Executive Charles I. Ecker said. "I felt the least we could do was collect something" for flood-ravaged people in Missouri. "I'm concerned about the people there. All [the county] needed was a little push."

Michele Rooney provided that and more. After getting Mr. Ecker's approval, she called the mayor of St. Joseph, Mo., for a list of needed items and then used some of her contacts there to line up a truck that will pick up the supplies and deliver them free.

Ms. Rooney is also hoping to get a truck stationed at the Columbia Mall but has not been able to work that out.

"I couldn't believe it when I got the list" from the mayor of St. Joseph, said Ms. Rooney, a former Missouri resident helping coordinate the relief effort here. "They want the absolute basic necessities."

The list includes soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mops, brooms, buckets, disinfectants, cleansers, brooms, trash bags, bandages, insect repellent, aspirin, antiseptics, baby blankets, baby bottles, diapers and toys. Nonperishable foods -- canned meats,fruits and vegetables -- are also needed, Ms. Rooney said.

County residents wishing to contribute any of those items may do so Wednesday through Saturday at any county fire station.

Ms. Rooney, an associate producer at Fox 45 news, called Mr. Ecker on Friday to ask for his help, and she met with him over the weekend to help plan the relief effort.

"I just moved from there in February," she said. "I still know a lot of people there. Baltimore has adopted St. Louis, and Washington is doing its thing, so I thought maybe Howard County could adopt northwest Missouri."

Supplies must be delivered to one of the county's 10 fire stations by 6 p.m. Saturday to be included in the relief effort.

Ms. Rooney expects Howard County residents to respond as the O'Donnell children have and to wholeheartedly endorse the relief effort.

"Everyone I've talked to so far has been great," she said.

Another relief effort is scheduled for this morning. Mark Bersbach, sales manager at Brickhouse Farm Water Co. in Ellicott City, said his company has joined several others in an effort to bring a truckload of bottled water to a Red Cross center in Rock Island, Ill., for distribution in Iowa and Missouri.

"We donated three truckloads to Florida," he said.

American Oil Co. is donating the fuel for today's 11 a.m. run, Ryder Truck Rental Co. is supplying the cab, and Valu Food Supermarket is supplying the driver, the trailer and some of the water, Mr. Bersbach said.

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