Weekly BlogScan: Hurricane Relief – Stepping Up
I spent 8 hours today at a relief donation site in one small city in California, and saw again the real face of humanity. People are stepping up to help, in whatever way they can. Politics were set aside—I didn't hear one word in 8 hours about White House, FEMA, or the Corps of Engineers. What I did hear was humbling: Over and over, people asked the same simple question, "How can I help?"
Teenage girls came by to donate their babysitting money, and stayed to help sort donations. Elderly women walked over from an assisted living facility nearby, and began labeling boxes in clear, school-teacherly text. Two boys zipped up on bicycles, and stayed to cart boxes up into the trailer. A mother brought her three adolescents to help, and they bagged up thousands of personal-relief gifts (toothpaste, toothbrush, comb and brush, individual sizes of hand lotion, mouthwash and shampoo).
On the blogs, people have also been stepping up. Blog-hub maven The Truth Laid Bear rallied the troops in that corner of the blogosphere with a massive fund drive for the Red Cross. N.Z. Bear and his blog-buddies are tracking relief organizations (from Insta-pundit, and providing a central place to find news of survivors (67071 records so far on GulfCoastNews), or launch a search for the missing.
Richard was last known to be at a high rise down town. I haven not heard from him since last Sunday. If you have any information, PLEASE let me know. Thankyou so very much. (He has made contact with his family.)
Carline B. in the early 80 were you and your family station in japan. My mom beckie p. has been worried. please email susan b. (Still no news on Caroline B.)
Last seen at BAY ST. LOUIS, MS High School - we need to know if she's still there. Please contact 727... (FOUND at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport!)
News from New Orleans itself can be found at NOLA.com.
Saturday, Sept. 10—Sheriff Harry Lee said Saturday night that the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s office had processed 152 bodies, but only 20 of those were deaths related to Hurricane Katrina... He also said that body count does not include bodies that may have been taken to the morgue in St. Gabriel...
Commercial air traffic will resume Tuesday at Louis Armstrong International Airport, Aviation Director Roy Williams said... Commerical cargo flights have already begun...
Jefferson Parish will begin collecting food waste at some sites around the parish, all waste at the Jefferson Parish landfill and will begin picking up garbage on Monday...
The [Corps of Engineers] reported the following activities during the past 24 hours: ...Power is coming back online in the impacted areas. We have completed 352 requests for power assessments to critical facilities. New requests come in during the past 24 hours. A priority is being given to bringing water treatment facilities back on line and providing generators for key locations...
Bloggers helped to build the picture of the devastation, and guide relief efforts. Left Brain Female in a Right Brain World cites the slideshow/photo gallery put together by a flood survivor, Alvaro R. Morales Villa, "who evacuated New Orleans under his own power last week—4 days after hurricane Katrina struck." Villa's gallery is linked from her blog. At Me, Marcel & I, the blogger ran ahead of the storm to escape New Orleans, finally providing a brief message that he and his family are safe, and heading west.
Bloggers found ways to motivate their readers to give. At Babalu, the "island on the net without a bearded dictator" is offering a free Babalu T-Shirt to all who donate $20 or more to hurricane relief. Dave Nalle of The Scriptorium offered a series of three fonts, donating all proceeds to charity. John-Paul and Deb Micek of The Business Owner's Blog set up a $1000 matching fund to promote donations—and succeeded 10 times over. "We received proof of over $11,500 in donations by 11:59 p.m. September 1. With our matching challenge amount of $1,000 we are humbled to have catalyzed $12,500 in donations for victims of hurricane Katrina in just 24-hours."
You can pitch in to help Katrina victims even from virtual worlds—according to Popular Mechanics online, "players immersed in massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) like Everquest II or World of Warcraft are aware that there is a real world with real problems that is outside of their spell-conjuring, battle-ridden, adventurous virtual worlds. Sony Online Entertainment is taking advantage of Everquest's hundreds of thousands of online players, allowing them to make in-game donations with a command keystroke, so that gamers don't have to leave their desks to help those affected by Katrina."
It's not only happening in America, either. At Love America First, they report a "a donation of 1.000.000 dinars (about $680)" from an Iraqi Army base.
"The amount of money is small in American dollars... but it represents a huge act of compassion from Iraqi soldiers to their American counterparts," said U.S. Army Maj. Michael Goyne. "I was overwhelmed by the amount of their generosity," Goyne said. "I was proud and happy to know Col. Abbas, his officers, NCOs and fellow soldiers. That amount represents a month’s salary for most of those soldiers."
Farrah Stockman at The Boston Globe online noted that Fatma Al-Khalifa, director of the information office at the Kuwaiti Embassy, said her country donated a massive package of cash and crude oil—worth half a billion dollars—because Americans came to the tiny country's aid during the first Gulf War.
Mostly Cajun notes that Canadian relief ships are coming down to lend a hand, "200-odd years after they ran MY ancestors out of Acadia and renamed it 'Nova Scotia'." "Three Sea Kings and 1,000 personnel, set sail Tuesday from Halifax (...that’s in Nova Scotia…)." In a similar vein, BlondeSense blogger PeterofLoneTree asks "Do American Citizens Have to Obey Orders from Mexican Troops?" He cites an AP story with a San Antonio dateline:
Mexican Army troops encamped Thursday evening on a field at a former U.S. Air Force base, setting up a mobile kitchen and large tents to sleep in, part of a plan to spend up to a month in San Antonio to help evacuees of Hurricane Katrina.
Finally, in a prime example of stepping up, there's Jabbar Gibson, the teenager who loaded friends and neighbors into a commandeered school bus and drove them to safety. There's now a petition online to honor Gibson. I note, however, that he didn't do it for the honor.
He did it because, like millions of people around the world, he was motivated to step up and help.
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