EU helps those suffered from Katrina

European Union nations on Monday prepared aid teams, food rations, water pumps and other emergency material for transport to regions hit by Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

The executive European Commission said further pledges of aid had come in Sunday, including promises to ship power generators, cots, tents and first aid kits.

It added that an EU aid coordinator would go to the United States shortly to help with the logistics to ensure aid got to victims of Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. U.S. authorities made a rare request for help from Europe over the weekend, asking for anything from diapers and baby formula to forklifts and veterinarian supplies to speed up aid efforts.

A team of 10 Belgian aid experts were leaving for Louisiana and Alabama on Monday. The NATO alliance has also started to coordinate food aid shipments, drinking water, generators, and tarpaulins through its disaster coordination center, the AP informs.

The United States thanked its European allies in the 26-nation alliance for their solidarity.

"The United States has been enormously grateful for the outpouring of support both emotional and concrete from allies over the past week," said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. ambassador to NATO. "We have had specific offers from almost every ally."

The alliance has also sent a liaison officer to Washington to work with U.S. authorities in assessing their needs.

"This again proves the effectiveness and reliability of this alliance and its value to the American people," Nuland told reporters.

EU nations big and small were contributing aid or expertise.

Germany and Britain had already sent 570,000 emergency food rations over the weekend, while tiny Luxembourg was preparing to send a team of five aid experts, two jeeps and 1,000 camp bends and 2,000 blankets. The Netherlands had deployed its naval frigate Van Amstel, which was transporting fresh drinking water, medical supplies and much needed helicopters.

Romania, not yet a member of the EU, was also sending two teams of medical experts.

So far, EU members Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Finland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain and The Netherlands have pledged aid. They are among dozens of countries from around the world that have offered to help.

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