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NRI hoteliers open doors to hurricane victims

The devastating hurricane has wreaked havoc in the American states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2005 12:05 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Even as numerous Indian American organisations are collecting funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) is chipping in with money and free accommodation.

The devastating hurricane that pounded the US Gulf coast last week has wreaked havoc in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The AAHOA, which controls some 35 per cent of the US hospitality industry, has a significant membership hailing from Mississippi and Alabama. And though they may be fewer in number in Louisiana, they have come forward with offers to help.

The organisation announced that it has donated $100,001 toward relief efforts through the American Red Cross and other initiatives.

In the wake of the disaster, infrastructure has collapsed and there is chaos on the streets as people wait for water and food amid bodies.

Though there is no official death toll as bodies are still being recovered, it is expected to be in thousands.

A semblance of order is creeping back, but there is a new fear of diseases breaking out.

At a local level, the AAHOA said its members have been giving complimentary rooms, providing food and other essentials to refugees, opening up lobby areas as sleeping quarters, providing food to hoteliers in need and collecting tens of thousands of dollars in donations for the relief effort.

"We, the AAHOA members, are part of a diverse American culture, which has enabled us to achieve our 'American Dream'," the organisation said.

"To show our commitment, loyalty and solidarity with our fellow Americans we have launched a campaign to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf States."

The funds collected will be turned over to the American Red Cross and other charities.

The AAHOA has urged its members to make financial contributions through cheques, donate free room nights (as many did for veterans of the Iraq war), to contact the local Red Cross about the rooms available and to coordinate with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

AAHOA president MP Rama and his brother HP Rama, whose company JHM Hotels owns numerous properties around the country, have started their own charity JHM Hotels Katrina Relief Fund.

"We are asking our 1,300 employees to contribute and the company will match it dollar to dollar," HP Rama said.

First Published: Sep 08, 2005 00:00 IST