As I’ve explained before, I’ve followed hurricanes on this weblog because my brothers, their families and my mother live in Mobile and my wife grew up in the Tampa Bay area and all of her family still live there. I tend to watch where those hurricane tracking maps are heading.
Katrina caused floods and major damage in Mobile, but in comparison to the damage along the Mississippi Gulf coast and in New Orleans and the rest of southeast Louisiana, Katrina’s effect on Mobile and bay area did not receive much media coverage. My family was spared any direct damage. However, a brother who is an ER doctor in Mobile worked for weeks (months) straight on patients streaming into Mobile from the affected areas. When I learned of my family’s safety, I was grateful, but I couldn’t comprehend what was taking place in New Orleans.
I did the only thing I knew I could do: start linking. A lot of those early posts were links of frustration. There were lots of people trying to set up survivor databases, but it became apparent that creating ‘silos’ of missing people was not the right approach. And so, bloggers and other tech-savvy folks moved fairly rapidly to form an open-source, cooperative approach to merging together the data being collected.
I also posted whenever I saw a response by groups and individuals in my hometown, Nashvhille. I noted then that volunteers from Nashville have a 200-year-old precedent for defending New Orleans. I don’t know how much help those posts were in actually guiding people to certain resources, but I received some appreciative e-mail from some folks who found loved ones via the online efforts I pointed them to.
Last night was the first time I re-read any of those posts. Now many have broken links and dated facts. Their only likely purpose from now on is to provide me a personal and chronological recollection of my emotional reactions to the disaster. It may sound selfish — especially considering the situation but having that personal record of what I was thinking at the time is one of the most compelling reasons for why I blog. I figured out a long time ago that I could probably have more readers if I’d stick to one topic and run top-ten lists, but when I look back over those posts, I know this is the reason I blog.