September 04, 2005
Assistance and volunteer update

If you're in Houston, please do a little homework before dropping stuff off somewhere or showing up to volunteer.

Each group and location has specific rules, needs and logistical challenges adding red tape to the process of matching volunteers, donations and hurricane victims, they said.

Houston residents, for example, are being asked not to bring donations directly to the shelters at Reliant Park or the George R. Brown Convention Center. Residents should avoid leaving donations at any nondesignated sites, since there's no way to collect them.

Two warehouses have opened near the Reliant and Brown shelters to handle donations, freeing up shelters running short on storage space because of a deluge of donations and hopefully giving needier shelters a place to call for supplies.

There will be two drop off locations - Gulf Haven Church at 10716 Sabo Road and West Houston Church at 2390 West Sam Houston Parkway North at Hammerly. Both locations will accept clothing, bedding, diapers, formula and other babyproducts, which will be taken to the warehouses for distribution. For most people, it may be easier to drop off donations at churches and community groups that have made plans to deliver them or to leave donations on the curb for city pickup.

Coordinators urged prospective donors and volunteers to check Web sites and make some calls to research what goods or assistance are needed.

Today, for example, the Houston Food Bank gave notice that it doesn't need any more volunteers. For now, anyway. By Tuesday, that could change, organizers said.

Volunteers should remain patient and try to remember that nonprofit agencies are being stretched thin, said Marilyn Fountain, community relations coordinator for Star of Hope.

"We do not want to frustrate people who are calling in whose hearts are in the right place," she said.


Help will be needed for months, and Fountain has a list of specific items that shelters still need to serve hurricane evacuees, including school supplies, grooming products, diapers, baby wipes and over-the-counter medicine.

She recommends donating larger family-size items, rather than travel-sized goods, when possible.

Blankets, towels, new underwear and tote bags or other containers to carry their new goods in are also in short supply, [Scott Arthur, Star of Hope spokesman] said.

At the House of Amos clothes pantry, volunteers are desperate for larger-sized diapers and school uniforms, including white and navy polo shirts, said Beryl Hogshead, a member of the nonprofit's board of directors.

Residents must also remember that these pantries and shelters still have Houston clients to serve, which really strains their supplies.

"The need is tremendous in the area," Hogshead said. "I had no sack lunches left for any of the regular people. They all went to hurricane people."

Emphasis mine. I know other things will be coming along, but we have to think of this crisis in terms of months, not days. The DomeBlog is a fabulous resource - see these two entries by Dwight for examples.

Help In Houston says:

Houston Association of REALTORS, KPRC, Houston Area Urban League, Houston Bar Association, and the Houston Young Lawyers Association have all teamed up to create the "Make a Home" program.

More information at the links.

A comprehensive list of links and information for Galveston area relief efforts is here.

Metroblogging Houston has a cool charity effort and a pointer to Metblogging message boards, which has some useful New Orleans-related threads going.

Via The Jeffersonian, the Express News has a resource page for all things Katrina-related in San Antonio.

For Austin, there's loads of information from Kesher Talk, Burnt Orange Report, Amanda, Eileen, and Ray In Austin, who also has a volunteer opportunity for techies.

Via World O'Crap, Joanna from BlondeSense is in the affected area, taking donations for supplies to drop off. Details are at the link above and also here and here.

Finally, here's Air America Radio's Public Voicemail

Air America Radio's Public Voicemail


Air America Radio's Public Voicemail is a way for disconnected people to communicate in the wake of Katrina.

Here's how it works:

Call the toll-free number above, enter your everyday phone number, and then record a message. Other people who know your everyday phone number (even if it doesn't work anymore) can call Emergency Voicemail, enter the phone number they associate with you, and hear your message.

You can also search for messages left by people whose phone numbers you know.

Air America Radio will leave Public Voicemail in service for as long as this crisis continues. You can call it whenever you are trying to locate someone, or if you are trying to be found.

Via Julia, who has more links in one post than I've ever seen anywhere.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 04, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

I need your help.

I've been at the Astrodome the past two days and have met a wonderful woman named Dorothy Broussard. She's eighty-seven years old, here by herself, and has lost everything. Dorothy has a terrific sense of humor and personality; she's given me a recipe for homemade wine (an orange, sugar, and a liter water bottle, "But you be careful! You're going to get drunk and get kicked out of school!") and she wears this knotted, dimestore-ugly black wig to cover her grey hair ("People helping out here keep passing me up because I look so young with this on!" she told me, giggling.) She's incredibly smart too; in her spair time before Hurricane Katrina she studied geneolgy at her local library and has tracked her family line back four generations (which, if my numbers are right, would stop at the Civil War).

Here's where I need help. She has a grandson named Bruce Summers who, the last time she heard from him, was living in or around San Diego. I've called 411 for information in San Diego and Los Angeles and checked the numbers for Bruce Summers off of Google Phone Directory in California, Oregon, and Washington state. If I can find him, I think Ms. Broussard will have a home. I'd keep searching, but I need to get some rest for the day at the Dome tommorrow.

This is where you enter. If you know anything about tracking people down on the internet, please start searching for Bruce Summers. The US Census, or a more comprehensive database of addresses and phone numbers if you know one, online might be helpful. I believe Google can cross-check addresses against phone numbers, so if you only have one you can find the other.

Her name is Dorothy Broussard. Her grandson is Bruce Summers.

So if you're sitting at home on your day off wondering what you could do to contribute to the humanitarian crisis we're facing in Texas right now, I cannot think of a better way to help your fellow citizens on a day that commemorates those who have given so much to our nation than helping re-unite an old woman with a family member.

A great city is that which has the greatest men and women. - Walt Whitman

If you have any success, please please call me at 832-656-0298. My name is Ryan Goodland.

Thank you.

Posted by: RMG on September 4, 2005 11:07 PM

Those of you who have been thinking about volunteering but haven't gotten around to it -- if you don't work "regular" business hours, you should have plenty of opportunities starting on Tuesday. With the long weekend and few people working, there have been plenty of people willing to volunteer, often more than were needed.

I suspect that will change a lot starting on Tuesday as many of them go back to work.

So if you want to help and you don't work business hours, circle a day or two on your calendar when you aren't at work and most people are...and go then. I suspect we working stiffs will have the weekends covered.

Posted by: Tim on September 5, 2005 9:33 AM

Something very important to note:

At the convention center in Austin, evacuees are being encouraged to register with the Red Cross Family News site ( This serves two purposes: it is an "I'm okay" list, and lets them search for family members. The problem is that there are so many different message boards and lists out there right now, there is no consistency. Please encourage evacuees to use the Red Cross system as a means to register and locate relatives. I am in Austin and am unfamiliar with the relief efforts in Houston, but if you guys can help spread the word I think it would really help.

If evacuees do not have an email address, they are being encouraged to register one with Yahoo. They can then list the email address on the Red Cross site as a means of contacting them.

Thanks for any help getting the word out to areas taking in evacuess.


Harold in Austin

Posted by: harold on September 5, 2005 1:06 PM