The Times-Picayune’s messages in a bottle

Nola1_1With power and phone lines failing, water rising and tempers flaring on the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast, the Internet is proving its value this week, allowing at least some victims and displaced people to communicate.  And New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, lacking access to its own offices and print facilities, has become, temporarily, a virtual publication, featuring news and serving as a communications forum with  postings like this one:

"FROM: Kim Keene, who is in charge of the oldest hospital in New Orleans—Touro Infirmary.

Yesterday they had 4 hours of generator time left, were stranded on the 2nd floor and above … Looters were banging at the door and they only had a handful of security guards. She is trying to find a way to get the people out as they had no water, limited supplies and with no electricity there is no life support and people will start dying. Touro, an independent Jewish hospital in the garden district, has been completely ignored—it has not been put on the emergency evacuation plan and no news stations or papers have covered what is happening there. She called desperate to get someone to notice them. I am appealing to you if you know anyone who might be able to get them noticed (media or governmental) and taken care of, please forward this information."

Notably, the Times-Picayune‘s site carried ads for The American Red Cross, the major relief provider, which again was able to raise emergency funds online. For ad agencies abandoned in the flood, the Web provided a communication hub even as cell phones failed. With their offices surrounded by flood waters, Peter A. Mayer Advertising, Zehnder Communications and Trumpet maintained communications with their scattered staffs through their Web sites.

Here’s a lengthy list, from the MarketWatch site, of places you can go to donate.

—Posted by Richard Williamson