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Katrina: Find people, feed people

As I watch the footage of the Gulf Coast, I am at a loss for words. The scale of the disaster is almost incomprehensible and everything I’ve written about it seems somehow trite. So rather than blather on like an idiot, I thought I’d be somewhat useful. A friend just sent me some useful links, including a website that is helping people locate loved ones, so I’m sharing.

Gulf Coast News has a database to assist in locating family and friends who were in the path of Katrina.

Disaster News Network
has ongoing news from onsite agencies (available as an RSS feed) and the first podcast I've seen from the disaster zone (for you podcast people) as well as information on how individuals can directly volunteer.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s information for people who are/were in the disaster area as well as those who want to help is here.

If you can afford a cash donation, I encourage you to support America's Second Harvest. They have an existing infrastructure designed to do highly localized food distribution and one of the critical needs down south is food. 1-800-344-8070)

If you feel that you can more easily give time (or food) than money, please consider volunteering with a local program that helps feed people. While there is a critical need for help along the Gulf Coast right now, there are also hungry people in your home town. They were hungry before Katrina and they will be hungry after. I know from having worked in social services that every time there is a large-scale disaster the local agencies—many of which are running on a rather frayed shoestring--see a drop in donations. Go ahead and write your check nationally, but give that 25 pound bag of rice locally.

FEMA is theoretically matching up people who have space in their home that they would like to offer to a person made homeless by Katrina. The only contact I was given for this is http://www.fema.gov/regions/ (1-202-646-3661) but I don’t see any information about it on the regional pages or in a search of FEMA. (If you are in the area, have space to share and locate a direct link, let me know and I’ll post it.)

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