Businesses, government, schools and even political campaigns are doing what they can to support relief efforts.
A very positive story that has been happening all over the country involves the many thousands of college students who were displaced by Katrina. Colleges and universities all over the country are volunteering to take these students on at little or no extra charge. Connecticut schools are joining the bandwagon:
The University of Connecticut on Friday joined the four schools in the Connecticut State University system in offering to accept students from Connecticut displaced by the storm. Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport extended the offer to anyone from the Northeast.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she asked CSU's trustees to grant free tuition to students from Connecticut who were attending colleges affected by the hurricane. They would only need to pay room and board.
Mitchell College in New London was opening its doors to any student who was affected by the hurricane. The college also said it would work with students on financial aid.
State Rep. Donald Sherer, R-Stamford, the ranking Republican on the legislature's higher education committee, called several college officials on Thursday and asked them to get involved. He said it would be ideal to have schools across Connecticut waive their tuition so the students can commute to a nearby college and not miss a semester of education. (AP)
Colleges and universities will hopefully do all they can to support displaced students financially, including waiving tuition.
Hartford Public Schools will be accepting younger students displaced by the storm, as well.
Connecticut volunteers are training in local Red Cross centers, preparing to go to the affected areas as soon as next week.
Other organizations from around New England are doing what they can, as well.
Energy costs are skyrocketing, most notably the cost of gasoline, which is above $3.00 in most parts of the state today. In Hartford this afternoon, I saw regular unleaded gasoline being sold for $3.39/gallon. The price has increased by as much as $0.75/gallon across the state.
Citizens are starting to complain about price gouging and profiteering. State leaders are trying to respond at both the national and state level:
On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. John Larson said he would team with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro to introduce a bill designed to prevent what he called profiteering by large oil companies before and after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast and damaged key refineries.
"What's accounting for these spikes in price? Greed," Larson said.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose office was fielding "hundreds" of complaints from citizens, said he would welcome congressional hearings on oil pricing and the operations of the New York Mercantile Exchange, where oil contracts are traded.
Separately, Gov. M. Jodi Rell issued a statement Thursday expressing outrage at rising gas prices. She outlined plans for a meeting today with energy industry leaders to "get a handle on these absurd price spirals."
Rell is considering a temporary suspension of the gasoline sales or gross receipts taxes, as well as a possible ban on the practice of "zone pricing," which allows wholesalers to charge different prices in different areas of the state. (Moran)
Who is to blame for these price increases? Local retailers? Suppliers? Big oil companies? Oil traders? All of the above?
One thing is certain: if these high prices persist, the economy and those least able to pay will suffer greatly. If oil prices don't drop somewhat before winter, we will have a much worse problem on our hands.
The best thing to do right now is to limit unnecessary driving as much as possible to save gas. If you do have to drive, go a bit slower. It's worth noting that fuel efficiency drops after about 55mph or so. I noticed that a lot of people were actually going the speed limit or below on I-91 today: that's a good first step. It's also a sign that people are paying serious attention.
Conn. schools offer classes to students displaced by hurricane." Associated Press 2 September, 2005.
Moran, John and Gosselin, Kenneth. Gas Prices Spark Outrage." Hartford Courant 2 September, 2005.