Daily Illuminator

September 5, 2005: New Orleans: How To Help

In the weeks and months to come, charitable organizations may need clothes and other supplies. Right now, what they need most is cash. (Exception: If you live in a city that has taken in refugees, you may be able to make a valuable local donation of clothing and other necessaries.)

There are a lot of enthusiastic instant-volunteer groups now, holding auctions, soliciting money, and so on. Most of them are on the up-and-up. Some of them are even capable of delivering on their promises. (I've experienced the downside of this. After 9-11, a number of game companies and professionals were solicited by a well-meaning individual asking for donations to be auctioned in support of the victims. He made a good pitch and got a lot of responses. Without going into detail . . . he truly meant well, but the effort eventually dragged to a halt in recriminations and embarrassment. I think eventually some money made it to one of the NYC funds.)

I am NOT telling you to ignore these solicitations - but look at them with open eyes. And if they still look good, by all means, donate.

However: If you want to get your money to the Red Cross, the absolutely quickest and surest way is to donate directly. Wherever you live, you can donate; just do it wisely. As I said: a direct donation is safest. However, there are reputable organizations that will let you leverage your donation. Case in point: I was at a Whole Foods store a few days ago. They're collecting for the Red Cross (and I think they can be trusted . . .). And they're matching the first $1,000,000 of donations made through their stores. You can bet that that was where I donated.

Late breaking news: I have just been told that Texas Land & Cattle, a steakhouse chain, is donating all its income for today (Labor Day) - NOT just "profits" - to the Red Cross. If you live near a TxL&C, think about going out to eat tonight. And go again next week to thank them for it. I'm a regular TXL&C patron, and I promise you, the food is good! Other chains under the same ownership are doing the same thing.

You Can Help From Home

One of the users on our MOO commented yesterday that he'd already given everything from his last paycheck that he didn't need for food or rent . . . and that he'd give his time as well, but he didn't have the right skills. Here's something that ANYBODY - well, anybody who can read this message - can do to help.

Many friends and family members have been separated and left with no clear way to find each other. Hundreds of web sites are gathering thousands of entries about missing persons . . . and people who want to let others know they’re okay. The problem is: there are dozens of such sites, with no particular form or structure. So it's almost impossible for people to search or match things up.

The Katrina PeopleFinder Project needs your help . . . as little as an hour of your time. All you need to do is read unstructured posts about missing or found persons, and then enter the relevant data through a simple online form.
-- Steve Jackson

New for the Hall of Shame

And they just keep coming . . .
  • Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was quoted on CNN Saturday as calling the disaster - a predictable scenario, which many had feared for years! - "breathtaking in its surprise." And here's a whole NPR interview in which he displays the breadth of his failure to grasp the situation. (This fellow, by the way, is the Cabinet member with jurisdiction over FEMA.)
  • "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees . . ." - President George W. Bush, during an interview with Diane Sawyer, on ABC's Good Morning America, Thursday, September 1, 2005. (Breach or simple swamping of the levees was a great concern less than a year ago when Ivan looked to be aimed at New Orleans. Compare this late 2004 analysis with today's news reports.)
  • What's YOUR favorite term to replace "refugees?" I don't want to be INSENSITIVE to the tender feelings of politicians who want camera time. How about "meteorologically displaced individuals"? Or, perhaps, "Katrino-Americans," to mollify those who think that "refugee" implies (gasp, shudder) "foreigner"?

Or how about "They're refugees, and we're going to help them, as we always help refugees, no matter where they're from." Feh.

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