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Navy sends ships to Gulf Coast

Relief from numerous sources is on its way to the Gulf Coast states battered by powerful Hurricane Katrina.

On Wednesday, four Navy ships, including the USS Iwo Jima, departed from Norfolk, Va. Their destination is the Gulf of Mexico.

The Iwo Jima is a helicopter ship. It carries heavy-duty medi-vac aircraft. Currently, the only way to reach some towns and communities that were hammered by the storm is by air. Bridges and roads in a three-state area are either completely destroyed or blocked by debris.

Meanwhile, the Navy's hospital ship, The Comfort, is steaming towards the Gulf from its homeport in Baltimore, Maryland.

The USS Bataan, another helicopter ship, is already stationed off the Gulf Coast and has launched rescue missions.

MSNBC reported on Wednesday morning that eight elite "swift water rescue" teams from California are on their way to the storm stricken area.

The U.S. Army and Air Force are sending planes and helicopters.

Over 8,000 National Guard troops from three southern states are currently deployed in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Additional troops from other states are awaiting orders to move in and provide assistance.

Financial relief is also pouring into the areas hit by the storm. Two organizations n Wal-Mart and the NBA Players Association n have each committed $1 million to the relief effort.