An open letter to the citizens of the Eighth Congressional District:
Though our district is large, I am so proud of how we have pulled together in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The efforts of so many individuals in Southern Missouri have meant the world to men, women and children who are suffering all along the Gulf Coast. To say this district has made a difference to our neighbors is a colossal understatement.
I wish I had space to recognize every person I have seen or heard of going above the call of duty. In the end, it is easier to simply thank everyone, because everyone is helping. In Cape Girardeau, Kennett, Leadwood and all along the I-55 corridor, contributions of much-needed supplies have been loaded up and driven South. From Farmington and many, many other communities, firefighters and emergency personnel have departed their homes and families to help out. In Rolla, a radio telethon raised over $100,000 for relief efforts in two days. From Perryville, Company B of the 1140th Army National Guard Unit have deployed to Mississippi and Louisiana just months after returning from Iraq. Guard Units from all over our state, including the 1137th and 1138th, have also deployed to help. An 18-wheeler from Dexter is on its way to the Gulf Coast, laden with supplies. Across the district, our churches have become clearinghouses for donations and relief supplies. In towns like Piedmont, families have opened their homes to people whose homes were destroyed by Katrina. A Sikeston men's clothing store donated hundreds of pairs of pants and shirts. Poplar Bluff businesses have set up collection points and sent tractor trailers to points throughout the region. From West Plains, a convoy of water and emergency supplies from there, Brandsville, Thayer, Cabool and Summersville set out for a suburb of New Orleans called Kenner. I went with them.
We have shown our best character and our true spirit through good works like these all across our district. With so many people helping out, it is impossible to name every effort. It is also impossible to predict the generosity of weeks and months to come, though there will be many opportunities. We will rise to each new challenge together. Thank you for every effort, every donation, every hour volunteered, every single one of the thousands of different contributions made to our fellow Americans in crisis. Let's keep it coming.
Jo Ann Emerson