Hurricanes, tsunamis and other uncontrollable catastrophes tend to make us use careworn phrases like "be strong!" and "our thoughts are with you." Heartfelt sentiments for sure, but powerless to ease the pain we see in the pictures coming from New Orleans. What can I do, you ask?
Go to the New Orleans Craigslist Housing section if you want a reminder that tragedy can bring out the good in people. Hundreds of people across America opening their homes to strangers, victims, for little or no money. Missed Encounters, usually stuffed with messages like "You were the blonde bachelorette who flashed me on Bourbon Street," is now a tool in the anxious searches for relatives and friends. Volunteers is full of people across the country anxious to do something, anything to help.
An article in the Post Style section today talked about how New Orleans has always been a city in touch with death. Celebrating it, living alongside it, glorifying it for tourist dollars. I don't see anything glorious about the last few days, or the coming months.
And so I sit, riveted to the pictures on my computer screen. There are things to be done, but I can't do them. I can't drive to Houston to volunteer because I have no vacation time, I can't donate money because I literally have none, and I don't even have any spare stuffed animals to give the Red Cross. So I sit. And emote. And link to here, and hope that others are not so unable to move as I.
About fifteen minutes after posting the above, I gave myself a massive guilt trip and donated online. The Red Cross website was flooded (sorry, poor word choice) so I gave at here at Second Harvest Food Bank. Your turn.
And watch out for scams. Brand-new domain names like katrinahelp.com are not to be trusted-- read a warning here.