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Gustav: AFP, New Dominion, local Democratic Committee team up to help Gulf Coast

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The Augusta Free Press, The New Dominion and the Waynesboro Democratic Committee are teaming up in an effort to collect items and funds to distribute to the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Hurricane Gustav.

The Augusta Free Press Publishing office at 539 W. Main St. and the Waynesboro Democratic Committee office at 801 W. Broad St. in Willow Oak Plaza will serve as local collection centers. Local residents who want to drop off items or funds can do so at the AFP office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at the Democratic Committee office from 5-7 p.m.

“Augusta Free Press Publishing will work with local agencies to make sure that items and monies get to people in the Gulf Coast region,” AFP publisher Crystal Graham said in a statement.

“We want to mobilize the local community to assist in every way possible so that help can get there as quickly as possible,” AFP editor and Waynesboro Democratic Committee chair Chris Graham said.

Gustav, a Category 3 hurricane, is on a path to hit the Gulf Coast west of New Orleans on Monday. It was three years ago this week that New Orleans was dealt a massive blow by Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm that caused billions of dollars in damage and killing more than 1,100 people in New Orleans and 1,800 people all told.

“The relief agencies are saying that the primary need right now is for monetary donations,” Crystal Graham said. The AFP will be in contact with local agencies to get an idea of the need for daily-living items as it becomes clear what those needs might be in the next couple of days.

Crystal Graham visited the Gulf Coast region after Katrina in conjunction with a Valley-based relief effort and saw firsthand the devastation that the killer storm left behind.

“I will never forget what I saw, both in terms of the devastation and the will and resolve of the people that I met there to rebuild,” Graham said. “I am just hoping and praying that they don’t have to endure this a second time.”

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