We're a week on from when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast of the US and still rescue efforts are continuing. . They're not over by a longshot but the progress that's been made this weekend is a bit heartening, certainly moreso than we saw in the first few days. It's clear to everyone watching, save probably FEMA who doesn't seem to watch anything, that the effects of this disaster are going to last for years - years of people rebuilding their homes and their lives, assuming that they even have a sliver of either of them.
Normally with something like this we'd be telling you statistics about how many have died and how much damage has been done but it's impossible to know either right now. Damage continues to be done and people continue to die.
We encourage you to donate money to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They're on the front lines and we think they're trying to do a good job in the face of a lot of difficulties. We understand the Salvation Army is pulling out the red kettles already so you're bound to walk by a few opportunities to donate whatever you have in your pocket every day. You can donate to any (or all!) of a large number of national organizations via the Network for Good website.
But we also want to suggest something else - consider making a more long-term committment to helping these people. You can set up your fancy online banking systems to donate monthly to the Red Cross or plenty of other organizations that will be in the trenches in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for the long-haul. Habitat for Humanity is a good example - they'd already built some of the houses that are now washed or blown away but they'll be in there rebuilding those and newly building many more. This isn't he sort of thing where you can hope to send in your money now and forget about it a year from now. A year from now the real work will be going on but we worry the media will have forgotten all about it. The Red Cross trains volunteers to go into these areas and if you do that, well you're a superstar and we're proud to have you as our friend.
Additionally, look for opportunities to make the most of your donations, matching through your company is the most obvious. It's possible to triple your donations from the unlikeliest of sources. But there are other ways - when you buy something see if you can buy it from someone who'll donate part of the proceeds to Katrina-relief. We've already mentioned SocketSite giving up their affiliate commissions (we were thinking of a bookcase from DWR for the Cares office and now we know where to get it). If you know of others leave their information in the comments. Amoeba is matching dollar for dollar, so drop some in when you pick up your latest releases.
There's no "ist" family in New Orleans, but our friends at Metroblogging have a NOLA office and the folks there have been doing an incredible job of updating about the situation from the inside. To support them and their families, Metroblogging is selling T-shirts.
For up to the date information, the cable TV news is - possibly for the first time in a long time - doing a pretty good job on the ground in the area. If you get DirectTV, you can tune into Channel 100 - 24/7 Katrina coverage. In the space of about five hours they set up a whole new channel to provide information on relief efforts and news for evacuees. Viewers can send text messages, which are then scrolled on the screen, to those in the affected areas. If you stopped crying for ten minutes and want to make sure you start up again, download the PDF of the messages.
Finally, we encourage you to get angry, if you aren't already. Get angry that the kind of response that America has to a disaster of this proportion is so lousy. Get angry and don't stop getting angry until something changes. It should be clear to us here in the Bay Area that this is just about the best we could hope for when the big one hits, or hey, if there's that big terrorist attack we're all supposed to be afraid of - and we won't have the advantage of any kind of warning. And that best? Well, that best is not good enough.
Photo of evacuees on the "renegade bus" arriving at the Houston Astrodome by Katya Horner. Used with permission.Continuing