Latvia to offer help in U.S. hurricane disaster

Latvia stands ready to send 25 rescue personnel, doctors and police to help with recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which on Aug. 29 devasted the Gulf Coast of the United States, including the city of New Orleans.

Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis will make the offer of help to the U.S. Embassy in Rīga, Latvian State Television reported Sept. 4. Latvia may also offer drinking water and building materials.

Meanwhile, no reports have been heard of any Latvian-Americans or Latvian citizens who might be among the victims of the hurricane and the ensuing floods. Once communication channels have been repaired, the American Latvian Association will attempt to reach its small number of members in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, said Juris Mežinskis, head of the association’s welfare office.

The ALA counts six members in Louisiana, five in Mississippi and eight in Alabama, Mežinskis told Latvians Online.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, persons claiming at least some Latvian ancestry totaled 197 in Alabama, 259 in Louisiana and 138 in Mississippi. In the three states combined, a total of 254 persons claimed Estonian ancestry, while 2,714 claimed Lithuanian ancestry.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations for disaster relief on its Web site at

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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