Hurricane Katrina victims

September 2, 2005

Words can’t even begin to describe. Just give what you can please to the American Red Cross. It’s hard to imagine – 1,000,000 people displaced. The term “American Refugees” sounds so foreign. Our beloved city of New Orleans is gone… for now.

Watching the NBC Nightly News last night, my wife and I were shocked at the “Lord of the Flies” lawlessness that’s gripping the city now, the death and desparation; the lack of (or lack of coverage of) what seems like simple things our Government could be doing:

  • Air-dropping Emergency Ration Kits into hardest hit areas in New Orleans. 24 hours was the turnaround for the Tsunami- why not here?
  • Using loudspeakers on helicopters to reassure people- turn psyops around and help the people
  • Direct refugees using a blimp w/ text banners There’s a novel idea for communicating when normal modes of communication are out.

NBC is sending in their own security details to protect their reporters in New Orleans- is this Baghdad? I’m not there. I try not to judge but the lack of coordination, the desparate S.O.S. pleas of mayor of New Orleans the emotion reflected by the most war-weathered journalists (not just at NBC) warns the cynic in me that this is not being sensationalized.

We don’t need the president in the city for a photo op unless he’s offloading water and food. Then it hits me- is it possible our military is really stretched so thin that the national guard can’t mount a swift response?

I’ve been watching the mobilization of help internally at Microsoft and other companies. From servers and sites, hundreds of employees are working on everything from infrastructure to help bolster the American Red Cross’ bandwidth and servers (see Red Cross servers under extreme load), to the Katrina Relief Auction on Flickr that my friend Thomas Hawk and others are doing.

As Robert Scoble said, “If you’re at the Red Cross, we’re cheering you on. You’re heros in my book. Anything we can do to help, let us know.”

Robert, you’ve never been so right.