Today's Utah Policy Daily reported on Al Mansell's work to restore communities hit by Hurricane Katrina.
Senator Al Mansell is Assisting Relief Efforts
By Hayden Hill
After being back only a month from assisting tsunami relief efforts in Khao Lak, Thailand, Sen. Al Mansell is once again rallying disaster relief support – this time for hurricane Katrina victims. As president of the National Realtors Association, the former Utah Senate president is using the resources of Realtors nationwide in providing funds, information and manpower to the devastated Gulf Coast areas.
With a single email message, Mansell’s organization obtained 5,906 donations totaling $3.4 million in relief funds – and anticipates raising several million more in the next few weeks. The Realtors have earmarked every dime for individuals affected by Katrina with “not one cent spent on administrative costs,” Mansell said. He also notes that the vast majority of donations were in hundred dollar increments from individual members.
“[The funds] are being used to assist in rebuilding lives,” he says. “The money goes directly to the state associations so that at the state level they can decide the most worthy recipients.”
Another large part of the Realtors’ efforts is providing listings of vacant houses, apartment buildings, warehouses and even parking lots that can be used as temporary shelters. Directly following the storm, FEMA contacted the Realtors for an inventory of available housing in the surrounding five states. The Realtors’ response to the request was so staggering that the original Web site set up to house the information was soon overwhelmed with the profusion of listings.
The Red Cross also petitioned the Realtors help in the form of direct labor. Mansell received a call last week asking for 250 volunteers to go to the heart of the disaster and assist directly with relief efforts. The volunteers will bring their own food, water and gasoline and are told to expect to be gone anywhere between seven and fourteen days. “I know the response will be excellent,” says Mansell. “We’ll get more than 250.”
Mansell is visiting Mobile, Ala. and Jackson, Miss. this week to meet with state and local officials and work out exactly how the Realtors can best help. “We want to make sure they have the necessary staff. Whatever they need – the national association is willing to pay for it and make sure they’re taken care of.”
The National Association of Realtors, with around 1.2 million members, is the largest trade association in the country. “I don’t think people realize it, but Realtors are invested in the concept of communities,” says Mansell. “The better the community, the better the lifestyle. That’s why were down here, to rebuild people’s way of life.”
Read the NAR Press Release.