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September 06, 2005

No more rhetoric, only help

Instead of globetrotting as is my norm during the week, I was home from work today waiting for more information (the information, it turns out, is that it's 9:20pm on tuesday and I'm writing this from the airport, but that's another blog entry). While I was home today I left the TV on Katrina coverage while I was answering email, reading tech documents on this new project, etc. Out of all the MSNBC, CNN, etc, the most striking coverage that I saw was on the NBC morning show (name?) and on Oprah (she did say something about refugees which I semi-disagreed with, but other than that...). I was right there with her in her anger and disillusionment over the whole response to the situation. I think the reason being is that they were showing the human interest side of the story.

There was a woman in the morning show that was passionate about being able to stay in her home and about being okay with the amount of supplies that they have, etc, but (without knowing what parish she was in) I would say that she needs a quick education on what's in the water as more fecal contaminants and the effluent from dead, rupturing bodies seep into the water table, not to mention the report of the burning oil refinery and the effects of Benzene on her and her kids both short and long term. Be that as it may...

Perception is reality, and if the people say that they saw things, then they did. And for one person or another to discount it is futile, because in situations like this, there is nothing you could do to change people's minds about what they saw. But I digress...

I'm a member of a few communities on the web. I follow the mailing list of an author that I'm enjoying recently, as well as an international list about my favorite martial art. On these two lists specifically there has been some very good content regarding Katrina, her aftermath and what people in the effected zone are seeing.Instead of going through another long take on it, I'll excerpt some of their content. It speaks volumes.

From the Jim Butcher mailing list:

I am from Northeast Louisiana and just wanted to let you all know that
if you are looking for somewhere to send relief, this is it. We have a
lot of the refugees from Hurricane Katrina moving into our area.
Please, if this is not the correct place to bring this up, forgive
me. But it has nothing to do with politics, race, religion, or any
other taboo subject, at least, I hope not.

Everywhere is the place to bring it up.

From the Aikido-L Mailing list:

I've been working at the Red Cross for three days now trying to help people get situated in the aftermath of Katrina. If you are going to help, here are some facts you might like to know:

We expect to have possibly 200,000 refugees in the Houston area for 4 to six months, and maybe longer. It is estimated that it will take 9 weeks or more to pump out the City of New Orleans after the levee is fixed.

We are on the verge of a public health problem imported into Houston. Your donations are welcome, but don't come here unless you are medical personnel.

Food is being coordinated through The Houston Food Bank, 3811 Eastex Freeway, Houston, TX 77026.

Clothing, linens, and toiletries are being coordinated through the Salvation Army. Donate to your local SA specifically for hurricane relief.

Check with your local YMCA to donate prepaid gas cards, grocery cards and whatever other services they help with.

To help people locate relatives and so forth, there are a number of sites, such as the one at wikipedia, but these are ad hoc efforts (greatly
welcomed!) and an overall effort is being coordinated by FEMA. The first place to go is probably the Louisiana State Police. They are maintaining a list.

Donate to the specific relief effort by calling 1-800-HELP NOW, or through our site at As of last night the HRC was still focused on providing food, clothing, shelter and medical services, and at this time I don't believe we've started providing client services like vouchers, repatriation and transportation yet.

The specific needs change on a minute-to-minute basis, so I've only included what I believe is going to be fairly constant over the next couple of days.
Medical personnel who can travel to Houston should contact their local Red Cross or the Public Health Service.

This is going to be a long-term problem although the urgency should diminish within a couple of weeks. I hope there is still adequate support after the immediate romance wears off and the news media move on to something else.

Praying might help..

I also enjoyed Declan McCullagh's insite and article into the web response to Katrina. A motivated few can overcome a well intentioned many. Too, I enjoyed the coverage of John travolta flying up in his own plane (and he flies the biggun's, you know) dropping off a few tons of supplies and flying out, without so much as a how's yer day to the press. One more man doing what he can and not asking for recognition or praise.

(To do what you can, you can donate here, here or even here - which goes to the Red Cross)

I sat on my couch and cried today. Cried for the pain that our fellow Americans have endured (and will aave to continue to endure), cried at the lack of any kind of true responsbility being taken other than to say the response was not enough and cried at my frustration of again not being able to do anything other than click a link and give money. I'm a man of action - that is, I like to DO things, not watch while others do it for me. But I'm untrained and not really needed, so I do what I can.

Special thanks to all of the volunteers, servicemen and women, state and local police forces et al. for standing the lines and putting themselves into significant harms way to try and do what they can to save lives and ease the sufering of others.

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at September 6, 2005 09:32 PM