RealTime IT News

Networking Katrina Relief

Pictures always say more than words.

But words are holding their own in describing the scenes of utter devastation, as well as the anarchy that spread throughout New Orleans and beyond since hurricane Katrina and the flooding that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico.

Like we saw in the aftermath of the tsunami, the networking relief efforts are also a force of nature. They will need to be that and more this time -- the scenes are so utterly mind-boggling, almost unbelievable is the horrific chaos, violence and despair.

"The small but important gains by no means returned the city to any semblance of normalcy. The filth-ridden, riotous nightmare at the Superdome continued even as buses from all over the country slowly made progress in moving the thousands of desperate, angry and at-times violent refugees who had overrun the stadium," went one recent update on the Times-Picayune Web site, Nola.com.

Wrenching is too tame a word to describe some of the accounts from survivors.

FEMA's Web site has information about donating to the efforts, as well as a checklist for ensuring a charity is credible.

Every major technology company has stepped up to help, such as Verizon's '2HELP' SMS offer to help people donate to the American Red Cross.

Intel has donated $1 million to the Red Cross earmarked for Katrina relief. There are thousands of tech efforts big and small to help get people back on their feet.

Microsoft's Web site has a list of links and addresses of relief efforts, along with a matching program for donations from employees.

IBM said it is supporting multiple client recoveries in order to transition them from their production centers (applications, data, networks and personnel) to one of IBM's recovery centers across the United States.

Online photo sharing site Flickr has launched a Katrina Relief Auction of donated images, with all proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross Emergency Relief Fund for those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Craigslist.com has a lost and found section for missing people.

As powerful as the imagery is, such as the before and after satellite shots on CNN.com's Web site, or even at Google's Earth Beta, the stories, the words from citizen journalists and online bloggers, underscore the scope of the disaster.

According to CNN, as of Sept. 1, it had received more than 10,000 e-mails from citizen journalists with first-hand accounts of their experiences. More than 600 of these submissions have included either video or images. CNN said its Victims and Relief Desk has received approximately 10,000 e-mails since it began the morning of Wednesday, Aug 31.

Not to mention that record number of video plays that visitors have launched from the CNN.com site, which reached 15.7 million over a two-day stretch this week.

You can find more personal stories here.

One ISP in the region, DirectNIC, is still operating via generators, according to Wired News. Here's some pictures on a personal page titled DirectNIC.com Versus Looters.

In the aftermath of Katrina, amid the daily struggle in that region, and the helplessness that one feels watching the news accounts from thousands of miles away, we have yet another reminder of the power of the Internet behind a basic need to be engaged, involved, mindful, and connected with anyone who just wants to help.

Erin Joyce is executive editor of internetnews.com.