- Associated Press - Monday, August 4, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota residents and organizations are rallying to send financial and medical aid to Liberia in light of the recent Ebola outbreak.

Around 200 people attended a meeting Sunday night in Brooklyn Park to discuss the deadly outbreak and its effect on the community, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1s49GG2 ) reported. Decontee Sawyer, the widow of the first American to die from the disease, urged people to be helpful and understanding.

“Let’s not turn our backs against our brothers and sisters who are already struggling from this tragedy,” Sawyer said. “I understand the fear. Good people are afraid, but let’s not let that fear turn into something worse.”

Her husband, Patrick Sawyer, worked for the Liberian government and died in Nigeria on July 25, shortly after arriving from Liberia. He had planned to return to Coon Rapids, where his family lives, in August.

Minnesota is home to more than 30,000 people of Liberian descent, including one of the largest Liberian populations outside of Africa in Brooklyn Park. Many residents whose relatives are still in Liberia are scrambling to get them out of the country.

The Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 900 people in three West African nations.

Wynfred Russell, executive director of Brooklyn Park’s African Career, Education & Resource Inc., is trying to get his brother on a plane bound for Minnesota. But he said many flights are full and ticket prices are skyrocketing.

“I know a number of people trying to get their relatives out,” Russell said. “There is this wave of anxiety.”

Russell helped plan an upcoming mission trip to Liberia, but the group decided to cancel travel plans and send money and equipment instead.

Some local churches and nonprofits are also stepping up to help prevent the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

Global Health Ministries, a Lutheran organization based in Minneapolis, plans to send five large containers filled with gowns, masks, gloves and other supplies to Liberia. The shipment will cost the organization an extra $10,000.

Although officials say it’s highly unlikely that the outbreak will come to the Twin Cities, Brooklyn Park firefighters and police officers will begin to wear protective gear when responding to medical calls involving flu-like symptoms.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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