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Like a scout, be prepared

by: L.E. BASKOW, Oregonians on the Flight of Friendship trip to New Orleans earlier this month saw some of the demolition and rebuilding work going on in the city more than a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina.

I applaud the Portland Tribune for its meaningful coverage on the Flight of Friendship and Mercy Corps' Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery team who hosted the delegation of Oregonians (Flight of Friendship: Hard times in the Big Easy, April 6, and on the Web. I was among the more than 100 Oregonians visiting and working in New Orleans during the trip. Though the reality of Hurricane Katrina remains fresh across the country, here on the West Coast we sometimes forget the devastating aftereffects that Gulf Coast residents continue to struggle with daily, 19 months after the hurricane.

The personal look at the recovering city serves as an important wake-up call to Oregonians. Though we are far from hurricane country, our region is threatened by other natural disasters just as deadly. The importance of being prepared - personally, and in the workplace - is clearer than ever.

Though Tribune readers may not be able to personally contribute to the daunting task of rebuilding New Orleans, there are four very important things every Oregonian can do to help: Make an emergency plan, get a disaster preparedness kit, and get trained in CPR and first aid.

And contact our elected officials in Washington, D.C., and remind them that the job in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is far from finished.

Thomas Bruner

Chief executive officer

American Red Cross, Oregon Trail Chapter

Much work still needs to be done

After spending eight weeks out of the past 16 helping Hurricane Katrina victims rebuild in New Orleans, I say, 'Imagine all the People' that need our caring and compassion! To your editorial 'Lessons from New Orleans apply here' (April 10), I say, A-A-A-men!!!

Thanks again for your coverage. Gulf Coast residents do need our help - now and for years to come. Let's step up to the plate and get it done.

Ken Hennrich

Southeast Portland

We shouldn't skip over needs at home

On the front page of your April 6 issue is a story (Flight of Friendship: Hard times in the Big Easy) about how Katrina victims are still greatly suffering 19 months later.

In the Be Downtown advertising section in the same issue, former President Bill Clinton is in town speaking for $160 a plate on the efforts of his foundation to help communities throughout the world. There is absolutely no mention of helping our own.

Only in America would this happen.

Ed Hausafus

Eagle Creek

Wal-Mart spurred positive development

Now the political resistance to Wal-Mart has trickled down to Ikea as well (Welcome to Portland?, March 27). Public subsidies for either company seem unjustified, but so does the resistance.

A combination of activists (and Sam Adams) have ensured that there won't be a Wal-Mart at the Burnside Bridgehead, in Sellwood, at Jantzen Beach or in Cedar Hills.

Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart on Southeast 82nd Avenue has quietly become the anchor retailer for the most amazing small-business renaissance in Portland's last 10 years.

Bounded (roughly) on the north by Burnside Street, south by Holgate Boulevard, east to 92nd Avenue and west on 82nd Avenue, there is a burgeoning district of Asian businesses. The Fubonn Shopping Center alone has nearly a dozen new small businesses.

This probably would not have happened without Wal-Mart.

Why?

Because to attract the Asian community of greater Portland, there needed to be not only Asian markets, but also a major discount retailer to make it worth the drive. Spend some time in Fubonn, then in Wal-Mart - you will see the same shoppers.

This thriving new business area represents an 'inconvenient truth' to those who believe big box retail is automatic 'gloom and doom' for small business.

Kim Lathrop

Southeast Portland

Ikea, Wal-Mart are apples and oranges

I recently visited the Ikea store outside Seattle and found the comparisons to Wal-Mart absurd (Welcome to Portland?, March 27). Wal-Mart moves into neighborhoods and puts other stores out of business. Ikea stores move into vacant spaces and attract other businesses.

Wal-Mart attempted a hostile takeover in Sellwood, and Ikea is going into a no man's land out by the airport.

Ikea is a Swedish company with high production standards that offers good design at low prices. Everything in Ikea is the company's own product. They don't sell groceries, toothpaste or toilet paper.

Ikea doesn't make token environmental publicity moves. Manufacturing standards in Sweden are among the highest in the world. Ikea is interested in quality-of-life issues and the environment. Ikea has high standards for the wood used in its products. Its team of forest managers enforces its strict source regulations.

Soon only 59-cent reusable bags will be sold at Ikea, eliminating plastic bags, one of the most harmful products to the environment.

Shopping at Ikea is also a pleasant experience, with a children's play area and an affordable cafe with wonderful food. Ikea is nothing like Wal-Mart.

Kate Mytron

Southeast Portland