The "Hand In Hand" telethon for Hurricane Harvey victims got off to a bang. The fundraiser began September 12 and raised $14.5 million in the first hour. Stevie Wonder opened the event with criticism of climate change deniers like President Trump and prayers. Celebrity participants include Beyonce and Oprah, Jusin Bieber, George Clooney, Drake, Jamie Foxx, Barbra Streisand, Cher and more.

Stevie Wonder attacked over Trump "slur"

Stevie Wonder kicked off the celebrity event in the style of telethon king Jerry Lewis. But YouTube commenters are most upset that he linked natural disasters to global warming. They seemed to think it was a personal attack on climate change denier Donald Trump.

Reminiscent of his "We are the Children" performance, Stevie urged folks to "love on" those devastated by Harvey now Hurricane Irma. He asked them to put aside differences of race, sexual orientation, and politics as he played "Lean on Me" in gospel organ style.

Celebrities crusade for victims

With visions of Harvey's victims playing in the background, Beyonce spoke of natural disasters as the great leveler. Hurricanes are class, gender and color blind, raining on rich and poor, young and old, Muslim and Jew, black and white alike. "Hand in Hand" was an inclusive, diverse event too. Lupita Nyong'o and Daniel Craig and Nicki Minaj and Bruce Willis pulled together for the cause. Chef Rachael Ray donated a whopping $1 million. Sean Diddy Combs expressed honor to be involved on Twitter.

Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

In big storms, memories of the 1,836 Hurricane Katrina victims are never far away.

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Scattered diaspora washed up far from New Orleans and will never return. Much damage remains. Shops, homes, the great Mahalia Jackson theatre in Treme's Congo Square are moss-covered and vacant. The GPS goes nuts in the lower 9th ward as entire streets are gone. Ruined shotgun singles bear the dreaded "Katrina X." Formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailers were unlivable. Residents were barred from returning to housing projects that suffered no damage.

"Hand in Hand" gives Harvey what Katrina victims were denied

Roads were clogged days ahead of Katrina. Neighboring parishes refused flood victims entrance at gunpoint. But still, people say they were warned and could have left. Tell that to the Harvey and Irma victims and all storm zone dwellers. Most remain because, as in New Orleans, there was little time to move, no place to go and no way to get there. The damage toll was the worst ever in the U.S. Countless people were signally failed. Harvey hit on Katrina's 12th anniversary. So Barbra Streisand and Leonardo DiCaprio, Dave Matthews, Drake and Justin Bieber and other Celebrities at the "Hand in Hand" fundraiser are doing for Harvey's victims what Katrina's were failed.