US stars raise millions for hurricane victims

©Theo Wargo

The biggest names in American entertainment have taken part in a telethon to raise money for victims of the twin hurricanes which have ravaged the US and Caribbean.

Justin Bieber, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks were just some of the stars who appeared in the event, broadcast simultaneously from New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Nashville.

The one-hour Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief was broadcast live at prime time on all of the major US TV networks.

It was also streamed online by the likes of Apple Music, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The event was originally planned to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas but was expanded after the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma became clear.

It opened with Stevie Wonder performing Lean on Me and featured stars recounting some of the more heartbreaking and heartwarming episodes from the storms.

Oprah and Cher relayed the tale of the man saved from flood waters by a human chain of passers-by.

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman told the story of a toddler who survived when her mother was washed away.

Roberts and Clooney told of the man who played the piano in his flooded house to keep up his son’s spirits.

Julia Roberts. ©Kevin Mazur

The singer Selena Gomez choked up when she told the story of the Saldivar family, washed away as they tried to escape the rising waters in Texas.

Justin Timberlake told the audience: “Millions of people are in need.”

In a video message, Beyonce, who was born in Houston, said: “We’re all in this together.”

A galaxy of stars worked phone banks as donations rolled in.

As the show drew to a close, host Billy Crystal revealed that US$14m had been pledged in the hour alone.

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