Samoan Tsunami: Picking Up the Pieces

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In the wake of Tuesday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami that have wreaked havoc on the people of the Samoan islands, I ask Americans to remember those affected, and think about what you can do to help.

The devastation these people will feel in the coming weeks while they search desperately for their loved ones, and attempt to pick up the pieces of their broken lives is unimaginable. This is something that hits very close to home with me as I can remember my own devastation - as well as that of my entire family - after the tsunami that hit Phuket on December 26, 2004. Nine members of my family - spanning three generations - had set out to spend the holidays together in paradise, and were among the 230,000 lives lost in that horrible disaster. The search and recovery process was long and painful - and in the end, all but one of them was found and laid to rest. It's a loss that you don't ever fully heal from, and my heart aches just thinking of all the people faced with that same devastation today.

The relief effort is gearing up to bring aid to those affected by Tuesday's tsunami, but relief groups like FEMA and the American Red Cross need help. From a health standpoint, immediate medical concerns may be cuts, lacerations and broken bones suffered by those who tried to escape danger. And as the weeks pass, aid workers will start to turn their efforts to providing people in these areas with food, water and shelter.

So please, keep them in your thoughts and prayers. And for more information on how you can help, click here.