Philanthropies Role in a Crisis

Tonight, I would normally be writing my newest post for this blog but instead I am glued to the television screen that shows the 35W bridge ,about 2 miles from my home, that has collapsed into the Mississippi River during the height of rush hour. I feel very blessed that I changed my evening plans that would have had me and my two children crossing the bridge at that time. After a few hours of jammed cell phone lines trying to reach my loved ones, I feel like I have accounted for everyone and I pray that I am right. With a Step-dad that is a firefighter, these sort of events have an intensifying stress level, as I first worry about the initial victims and then worry about the safety and long term mental health of the first responders.

These sort of events beg the question of terrorism and should highlight the issue of an aging city infrastructure. What is philanthropies role in these types of tragedies? Do we pull together memorial funds to honor the lives of those lost, do we support the Red Cross that has to do the heavy lifting with these types of events but is facing severe funding shortages as large funders like the United Way change focus, or do we pull agencies together to figure out how to prepare as best we can before tragedy strikes? I don't know which answer is right but I don't feel like I have the privilege of standing idly by.