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KATRINA: GETTING THINGS DONE

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 31, 2005 11:39 AM

***scroll down for updates…IT workers, Houston helps, Homes for Katrina Victims…where is Amazon.com?…Canadians helping…beware of scams…Amazon.com changes its mind…***

1) As I noted last night, N.Z. Bear at TTLB has set up a registration page for bloggers who want to participate in the Hurricane Katrina Blog Relief Day fundraiser–inspired by Hugh Hewitt–set for tomorrow, Sept. 1. Glenn Reynolds is keeping a master list of charities, continually updated. Bookmark it. He writes:

The plan for tomorrow’s flood-aid blogburst: I’d like each blogger participating to put up a post recommending a charity, or other action to help, and linking back to this post where I’ll keep a comprehensive list of both bloggers and charities. Basically, a Carnival of Hurricane Relief. That way readers of any blog will have ready access to recommendations on all the blogs. If anyone has a better idea, let me know.

I’ve chosen Mercy Corps as my target charity. Lots of other very worthwhile organizations on the list. Please join us tomorrow.

See also the Hurricane Katrina Help Wiki. And more Hugh Hewitt on church-based efforts across the country.

[Update: Many folks want to know how they can check out the legitimacy and effectiveness of charities before they donate. I use the Charity Navigator. If you have other suggestions, send them along.]

2) Reynolds points to New Orleans-based blogger Paul at Wizbang’s sober post on what else bloggers can do. A few suggestions:

There’ll be plenty of time to show off your 20/20 hindsight next week. For now, accept this for what it is… a natural disaster of biblical proportions.

If you want to do something, quit yer whining and do what blogs and bloggers do best… Use information to change the world.

99% of us have no idea how our neighborhoods did. Somebody try to find and compile (reliable) damage reports from specific neighborhoods. Sure it takes some local knowledge, but google maps will fill in the blanks. [Update: The levee broke and the whole damn town flooded so I guess we can check this one off the list.]

We don’t know how FEMA works. Somebody read the news reports on what FEMA is doing and what it is not… Somebody read their site and distill it for those of us who don’t have time for red tape.

Flood insurance? I know the feds handle it. Who do I need to talk to? What do they pay? [MMnote: Matt Johnston sends along some info here.]

Every natural disaster I send the Red Cross my standard $100 donation. I have no idea how to get money from them. It is a grant or a loan?

If I don’t actually cancel my phones and my bill is auto-debit do they still bill me?

If I shut off my phone will I lose my number?

Heck- Somebody make an “Evacuee survival guide” with laser precision information on how to get help without clicking 50 links or waiting on hold 2 hours. If you can save 25,000 people 5 hours of looking up the same information, think of the power in that!

Think of the simple things- Thousands of people lost their glasses. Somebody set up a website where they can coordinate donations of (known) prescription glasses from people who no longer need them. Get a freight company to donate the freight. I bet FedEx will give you an account number that will route all the glasses to some agency in New Orleans.

If you’d like to help Paul, who’s homeless like everyone else in his city, Kevin Aylward has set up a Paypal donation system here.

3) Ernie Mosteller recommends the United Methodist Committee on Relief and offers these concrete suggestions:

How You Can Help

Give:

Your generous gift to UMCOR Advance #982523, Hurricanes 2005 Global, will help those affected by Hurricane Katrina. You can give online at www.methodistrelief.org, at your church, over the phone at 1-800-554-8583, or by mailing a check directly to: UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Checks should be written to UMCOR with the Advance number and name written on the memo line of your check. If you would prefer that your funds to go to recovery in a specific region, please note that on your donation.

Send:

Flood Buckets filled with cleaning supplies that people use to clean their homes after floods and hurricanes. For assembly and shipping instructions, call UMCOR Sager Brown at 1-800-814-8765 or visit the UMCOR website at umcor.org. You may also give a financial donation to to UMCOR’s Material Resource Ministry, Advance #901440 to purchase cleaning supplies that the Depot staff and volunteers will use to assemble flood buckets.

Go:

Volunteers will be needed to help in Hurricane Katrina recovery. To find out how you can help with hurricane cleanup, write Mission Volunteers at voluntrs@gbgm-umc.org for contact information for your United Methodist Volunteers in Mission jurisdictional and conference coordinators. They will provide details on creating and training a team as well as scheduling details. For information on what disaster sites are currently scheduling volunteers, call the Volunteer Hotline at 800-918-3100.

I’ll keep adding to this list throughout the day. Many readers are looking for a clearinghouse or website to be able to offer housing to displaced hurricane victims. If you know of one, please pass it along or track back. (See item #9 below.)

4) Not all celebrities are awol. Peter at Slublog notes:

WKIT-FM 100.3 here in Bangor, Maine is a radio station owned by
Stephen and Tabitha King. They’re holding a pay for play day on the station – call with a request and a pledge, and they’ll play any song you desire. All donations are going to the American Red Cross, with the Kings matching all donations dollar for dollar.

It’s nice to see.

Hear, hear! What are other radio stations and networks doing? Hello, ahem, Air America????? (On second thought, better keep Air America away from charities. You know how that goes.)

Update: No word from Air America. But reader Dan Sullivan sends this along…

Kidd Kraddick, a nationally syndicated morning radio personality based here in Dallas, has just completed a four hour broadcast which was devoted to raising money for the victims of Katrina. The show is broadcasted thru affiliates in areas affected by the hurricane. All of the money raised will be given to charities which will directly help individuals impacted or displaced by the hurricane.

Another update: Mark La Roi says Salem Communications is working with Feed the Children to raise funds.

5) Reader Cliff T. has a suggestion for college administrators out there who want to help out:

A storm-guest student program.

Various universities and colleges in New Orleans and other storm-affected areas of the Gulf Coast don’t know when they will reopen. Tulane and the University of New Orleans, for example, may require months, a full semester, or even longer to be able to begin classes.

It would be valuable to the country, and an act of national solidarity, for all other American universities and colleges to participate in an offer to students at those closed schools to come and audit classes on their campuses. Students attending Tulane who live in New York City, for example, could audit classes at NYU or Columbia or St. Johns or Brooklyn College or Fordham. A professor at NYU who has a Tulane student in his class would then e-mail that student’s Tulane professor to coordinate what papers the Tulane professor wants that student to submit (via e-mail) to him.

Those students wouldn’t then lose an entire semester. I’d hope that, since the burden would be small for any single school (each school can establish a limit on the number of students it will accept), those guest students wouldn’t be charged more than a nominal fee for the seat they’ll occupy.

Great idea. If you are a college administrator who takes up this cause, please send an e-mail.

6) Reader Pamela Forster needs help:

Any idea how we can find out if loved ones are on the published death list as regards Hurricane Katrina? We have family in Ocean Springs, Mississippi whom we cannot reach and they haven’t contacted us. Two persons were on their way to a hospital in Biloxi just before the Hurricane hit. The husband has emphysema and we’re concerned that without electricity he might not have survived. We don’t know which hospital, but even if we did, we can’t get through. I’ve tried contacting all Biloxi hospitals and cannot get through.

Thanks in advance for any info you might have.

If anyone has info, please e-mail or trackback.

Don’t forget that NowPublic is running a missing persons message board.

7) Do you work in IT? There’s a huge role for you to play in relief/recovery efforts–particularly those in satellite communications, networking, etc. The Red Cross has already received help from several IT firms, but welcomes all the help it can get. Let us all know of any new initiatives, equipment donation campaigns, etc.

8) Houston is lending a big hand. Evacuees from the Superdome will be moved to the Astrodome. BlogHouston is up-to-date on the latest community efforts to welcome the evacuees. The Houston School District is opening its doors to displaced students and here’s a thread that will be updated with businesses offering free services to hurricane victims.

[Update: Amy Welborn has a Houston helpers’ round-up, with info on the biggest sleepover in Texas hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. You can send donations of sleeping bags, pillows, etc., here (PDF flyer).]

9) Four days ago, I mentioned Bill Hennessy’s idea of offering homes/shelter to hurricane victims. He has now created a website/clearinghouse for folks who want to coordinate Homes for Katrina Victims. Pitch in if you can!

10) Where is Amazon.com? And how about Yahoo!? Microsoft? Dell? Cisco? Countless readers and a few bloggers have wondered why these tech companies, which stepped up the plate to help raise millions of dollars for tsunami victims last year, have not yet set up fund-raising efforts.

Let’s concentrate on urging Amazon.com to set up a one-click donation similar to its tsunami relief effort. Send an e-mail to Amazon.com here.

130pm EDT update: Just saw this on Information Week. Amazon.com says it doesn’t plan on helping with the Katrina relief efforts. The article notes that other tech companies are not jumping in to help:

[M]ainstream Web sites that had jumped to pull in money for the tsunami victims showed no evidence of repeating it here in the U.S. for Katrina’s. Amazon.com, which raised more than $14 million for the American Red Cross in January via a donation link on its home page, didn’t have one as of mid-day Monday. Nor did Google, Yahoo, MSN, or eBay, all of which hustled earlier in the year to put up donation links on their portals. (Google slapped up an “Information about Hurricane Katrina” link on its Spartan home page, but that led to news sources and stories.)

An Amazon spokesperson said that the online retailer had no plans to post a donation link on its site. “Each case is different,” she said. “The Red Cross has essentially given over its entire site to donations. The tsunami came out of the blue, so it was an ‘all hands on deck’ situation, but the Red Cross has been getting ready for this and getting its message out there for several days.”

2pm EDT update: Yahoo! posted this relief link. Reader/blogger Scott G. says Cisco is helping and passes along this info from the company’s Intranet site…

“The recovery effort to aid communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina is growing and the response from Cisco started as news of the disaster began reaching employees. Volunteer teams in RTP and San Jose formed and will receive specialized training before they travel to the affected area. The volunteers will receive assignments and begin recovery work when they reach the site.

All donations from regular employees made to the American Red Cross in I-Give will be matched by the Cisco Systems Foundation up to US$10,000 per employee. The minimum individual employee gift is $50.00 in order to receive a match from the Cisco Foundation.Donation will be focused on immediate humanitarian relief efforts to assist local victims of the disaster.”

Good for them.

[Update: Amazon.com changes its mind. Thanks to all who wrote in]

11) The place to go if you are looking for information on Katrina victims in Slidell, La., is the Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog.

12) Canadian? Want to help? Damian Penny has a running list.

13) Pennywit keeps you abreast of charity scams. Be careful.

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