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Help from our friends to the North

Canadian Blender Cat sent on these stories on efforts in the Katrina-affected states. Remember, the Chimp turned help away initially, so he could blunder things to the Nth degree.

HMCS Athabaskan sits in port in Halifax, Monday. (CP Photo/Halifax Daily News/Jeff Harper))

* Canadian ships sail to aid hurricane victims.

Prime Minister Paul Martin and David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, were dockside in Halifax Tuesday as four ships loaded with emergency supplies prepared to head for the U.S. Gulf Coast. Three navy ships and a Canadian Coast Guard vessel are expected to reach Louisiana in about five days. They are being joined by several Sea King helicopters.

One thousand Canadian Forces and coast guard personnel are aboard. They’re are bringing provisions including clean water, massive tents, cots, body bags, assault boats, lumber, pollution cleanup equipment, bug spray, and even diapers and baby wipes.

* Weary B.C. team arrives back home after helping in New Orleans rescue effort. This team worked four 18-hour days and rescued 119 people.

The Vancouver-based Urban Search and Rescue Team – the first rescue team into Louisiana and the only Canadian contingent – arrived home Tuesday after completing its work in a flooded community near New Orleans.

The exhausted 46-member crew, which had gone 30 hours without sleep, met briefly with the media at Vancouver International Airport before getting on a bus and heading home for some well-deserved rest. Team leader Brian Inglis said the group has waited several years for an opportunity to show its skills.

“We’ve been waiting for this, a large deployment of the team, for almost 10 years now,” said Inglis. “It happened at an appropriate time and it was a quick response. We were out the door in the time we should have been.” Inglis said the B.C. team’s work was appreciated.

“You can’t possibly express the joy and gratitude and relief the people in St. Bernard parish expressed at our presence.”

* Canadian universities open doors to hurricane survivors.

The schools said they will admit undergraduates who were enrolled at Louisiana and Mississippi universities that have been closed indefinitely by flood damage. Up to 100,000 students have been displaced according to the Association of American Universities.

If we can accommodate these students until [New Orlean’s] Tulane is up and running, then we’re happy to do so,” said Jennifer Robinson of McGill University.

Robinson said the university has had over 100 phone calls from interested students. So far, two have agreed to travel to Montreal to study. They had been planning to attend Tulane University. But with the campus in shambles, the start of the school year has been postponed.

The students’ immigration papers are being fast-tracked. McGill’s Robinson said the only inconvenience will be that the new students have to find their own places to live. “We have about 25 hundred spots in residence but they’re all full. But there is off campus housing that we can refer these students to.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding