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Hurricane Relief - What Would You Bring? 534

Posted by Cliff
from the gulf-assistance dept.
andyring asks: "In a few weeks, I will be going with a group from my church down to some of the hardest-hit areas in Louisiana and Mississippi to volunteer in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. We will be there six days, and have 10 people going so far. At this point, I don't know much more than we'll be in either Slidell, La. on the northeast shore of Lake Ponchartrain, or Pass Christian, Miss., right on the Gulf Coast near Gulfport/Biloxi. Not knowing what we'll be faced with, and having somewhat limited room for supplies, tools and equipment (probably a U-haul trailer), what would you bring on a journey such as this? Any Slashdot readers between Lincoln, Neb. and the New Orleans area interested in contributing to our effort, such as donations of equipment/supplies/tools/etc?"
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Hurricane Relief - What Would You Bring?

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  • Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by cloudkj (685320) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:42PM (#13681171)
    First things that come to mind are some comfortable shoes, and clothes you wouldn't mind getting dirty in.
    • Boots not shoes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by nlinecomputers (602059) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:52PM (#13681239)
      Comfy shoes implies to me your typical sneaker/running shoe. Bad idea. You may be stepping in alot of debris. Things that can be sharp like glass, nails, and so forth. You'll want a sturdy set of work boots. Perhaps even steel toed shoes. Bring a hard hat as well for the same reason. You'll do them no good if you get injured trying to help them out.
      • Re:Boots not shoes. (Score:4, Informative)

        by jafiwam (310805) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:01PM (#13681292) Homepage Journal
        If you have them;

        Combat Boots. Sure you look like a goth poser, but I have personally spent several days in my jungle boots including showers, walks and drinking with no ill effects.
        (dry your socks, but otherwise the boots never let me down)
      • Re:Boots not shoes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by twilightzero (244291) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .sflorm.> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:13PM (#13681358) Homepage Journal
        From the perspective of someone who currently works for Habitat for Humanity and has a lot of experience on this sort of thing, I would highly reccommend steel toed boots. The hard hat I tend to be a bit less picky on, as they'll only really help you in places you don't have to bend over much and will be ducking under things. I'd say throw a few in just in case but usually I just go with a regular cotton bucket hat.

        As far as tools and things, here's the (non-definitive) list that I would reccommend:
        -Shovels (1 per person, round point)
        -Crow bars/wrecking bars
        -Breaker bar (looks like a giant steel pole with a point or chisel on the end)
        -Hammers (lots)
        -Nails (several boxes each of 8 penny, 16 penny, 16 penny duplex)
        -Good cordless tools with plenty of backup batteries (I'd reccommend at least 18 volt if you can get them, get enough batteries that you can charge at night)
        -Generator if someone owns one already (very handy)
        -Wheelbarrow or two
        -Sawzall or equivalent tool of destruction (2 if you can get them)
        -LOTS of good leather gloves (go for full leather, do not get fabric-backed or cotton jersey. They just won't stand up. You can get decent leather gloves here [yahoo.com] at $22/dozen)
        -LARGE water cooler - I'd reccommend a good Rubbermaid or Igloo jobsite cooler with associated plastic/foam glasses

        That's a good start for a list. If you want more advice drop me an email with SLASHDOT in the title at the email addy on my account. I've done quite a lot of this sort of work before. Wish I could come with you but I'm stuck here :\
        • Power inverters (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel@bcgre e n . c om> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:01PM (#13681618) Homepage Journal
          Generator if someone owns one already (very handy)

          If you don't have a generator (and even if you do), power inverters can be real useful... These things can take 12Volt powr and provide 110 for things ranging from laptops to power tools. This means that they can run off of your car's battery and generator. Xantrex [xantrex.com] (formerly statpower) is who I know, but there are now many other similar suppliers of these things... They start at about $40, and can be found at places like Radio Shack. They're invaluable when you're mobile/remote/stranded or just plain out of mains power (to steal the british saying).

          They range from a tiny 75watt unit that can plug into your accessory outlet, and should handle most chargers and laptops to units over a kilowatt that will probably need to be wired direct to your electrical system (presuming that it's even robust enough to drive the monster at full load).

          Once you've got that, I'd also suggest a couple of jell cells, for running things that want mains power when you're in places like a hotel room with no power (you can charge them off of the vehicle power during the day). I wire mine with a 12-volt accessory plug (make sure to put a fuse on it). You can often get them out of small dead UPSs.

          You can use them when you're mobile, and after you've placed your larger generators where they're most needed. I first came up with the idea in my tree-hugging days when I needed to charge a video camera battery at a logging protest and the only power I had access to was an RCMP vehicle.

          If you haven't already thought of it: communications equipment, including hand-radios. I wouldn't presume that cell phone service id reinstated wherever you're going.

        • by swv3752 (187722)
          For the south, I would recommend a wide brimmed hat. Also sunglasses, and sunscreen.

        • by sasha328 (203458) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:37PM (#13681810) Homepage
          I agree with the parent post. I am a volunteer in our state's Emergency Service organisation, and I can think of a couple more things you might need.
          You haven't clarified what exactly you'll be tasked to do (rebuilding/helping the refugees, cleanups etc.) Still, I'll chip in with a few more suggestion, keeping in mind all you have is a trailer.

          - Blankets: handy for a lot of things.
          - Plastic Tarulins (and a roll of the heavy duty plastic sheets)
          - Some ropes (the synthetic tie down ropes get a couple of rolls, and some hauling ropes (sythetic or natural fibre ones)
          - Lots of (gaffa? or duct tape) very handy.
          - Brooms and rakes.
          - Spare boots and socks (unless you can obtain them locally)
          - A ladder, I would recommend a Folding ladder: can be made into a step ladder or a long one.
          - Drinking water containers (and water if you can, minimum 4 litres per person per day since you'll be "working" in a hot/humid place)

          If you restrict the trailer to only equipment, you'll have a decent amount of essential tools/supplies for tasks in disaster areas. I'm assuming for a group of 10, you'll be going in a convoy or at least a bus. Keep personal gear in your cars and spare the trailer for equipment and tools.

          One piece of advice I'd give you though. Working in disaster areas is not easy, especially when you are dealing with people who have lost a lot. Although it is easy to "say it", try not to get overwhelmed by the scale of things. Concentrate on your immediate tasks, and forget everything else while doing it. Also, it may not come naturally, you should appoint a "team leader" if you don't already have one. Makes running jobs much more smooth.

          Good luck,
          • by jdbear (607709) on Friday September 30, 2005 @07:29AM (#13683434)
            I just got back from a week working in the Swingster Distribution Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. 16 of us went down and worked in the center helping them to receive, organize and distribute supplies to the victims of the Hurricanes.

            I learned several things while I was there. It is hot, and the work is hard. You simply can't drink enough water. By the end of the day, we would be sucking down a quart of water every 15 minutes, and didn't stop until a couple of hours after the "work day" was over. Keep this in mind.

            The Gulf Coast region, with the exception of New Orleans, is in pretty good shape as far as public services are concerned. We were a half mile from the ocean, and were working in a sound building with power and water. I actually didn't make it into the building very often, mostly working in the yard unloading trucks or moving supplies.

            Just about everything that was actually on the coast was destroyed. Those houses that were not completely devistated were damaged severely and will need massive reconstruction efforts. The houses just a little distance away from the coast, a quarter to a half of a mile or more, were not destroyed, but still suffered some sort of damage. The wind did some damage to roofs, knocked down trees, fences, etc, but the biggest problem was still water damamge.

            Several of my crew left the distribution center one day to help an elderly gentleman "muck out" his house. He was 80 years old, mostly blind (he had 15% vision) and was trying to clean up/repair his home by himself with no tools and no power. He'd sent his wife away because the house wasn't safe to be in.

            The houses have water damage. This means that everything that was under 5 feet off the ground was soaked in water, and is now molding and rotting. It has to be torn out and carried to the street for the trash crews to pick up. Furnature, clothing, electronics, bedding, linens, pillows, appliences, TV's,... you name it, it's ruined.

            The biggest job is just removing the trash. Once it's gone, the house has to be cleaned with bleach or some other mold inhibitor. Dishwashing gloves come in handy. Once cleaned, it can be rebuilt, and that is a fairly straightforward construction job. Any damaged framing must be replaced, drywall goes up, flooring goes down, trim and moulding goes in.

            There is also "yard work" that needs to be done. Some homes have already fixed this problem. They look like nothing has happened. It has been several weeks, so if their house was not too badly damaged, they had time to fix the yard up. Others look like a war zone. There is debris of every imaginable kind there. I could show you some pictures. I found a microwave oven with a crab living in it, next to a torn street sign. 10 feet over, there was a Grand Piano laying upside down.

            There are crews that move through the streets with large grapplers and trucks to haul away the debris. They take it to a central point where it's piled up. The piles are HUGE. While I was there, I ate meals along side crews that did nothing but cut up downed limbs with chainsaws. Other crews then moved the cut wood to the street. It's a massive effort.

            That they need most is people willing to go and work, and not be picky about the job that needs to be done. I am not a manual labor kind of guy. I'm a computer geek and work in Infrastructure Problem Management, which means that I sit at a desk all day and talk on the phone for a living. Still, the job that they needed at the time involved moving large numbers of heavy boxes. That's what I did.

            When you go to help, just do the job that needs doing. Don't worry too much about having everything that you need with you. There are TONS of supplies there. They may not be easy to find, but they are there. People have been shipping tools and supplies to the Gulf Coast area for weeks. What we need are PEOPLE getting involved.

            David
          • One Small Note (Score:3, Insightful)

            by virg_mattes (230616)
            Take duct tape, not gaffer's tape. Gaffe tape frankly sticks too well for most jury-rigging jobs, and it's much more expensive than duct tape, which will do the job just as well in almost all cases you'll encounter. Throw in ten rolls of electrical tape in cases where waterproof seals are a requirement, and you'll be golden for half the cost.

            Virg
      • Safety Supplies (Score:5, Informative)

        by dschl (57168) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:14PM (#13681362) Homepage
        Steel toe / steel shank, and the boot should go above the ankle. There will be plenty of trip hazards, and you'll be out of action with an ankle injury in low-cut footwear. Safety glasses / goggles are mandatory, as are leather gloves. First aid kits and someone trained in first aid is also a good idea for any jobsite.

        Worksites are dangerous. I can only imagine the carnage if you set loose a bunch of weekend warrior office workers with power tools and hurricane-damaged buildings. Make sure you have someone experienced in the type of work to provide a full daily orientation, along with tool and worksite safety training, and supervision to ensure that you don't injure yourselves. You don't want to add to the problem by becoming a burden on local medical resources, rather than helping out as you had planned.

        You need some idea of what you'll be doing before you can properly plan. Will you be clearing damage, and demolition? Then you'll want chainsaws, chop saws, wrecking bars, etc. Will you have electricity (generator or powerlines), or will you want to bring as many gasoline powered tools as possible. But most importantly, you need some people who know what they're doing. Plan your work. Prethink each task before starting it. Stop and think (Exxon safety slogan) during each task.

      • by Furmy (854336)
        You'll want a sturdy set of work boots. Perhaps even steel toed shoes.

        Absolutely - if you don't have any, check with local EMS/Police services to find out what they wear. You're looking for something safe, lightweight, good ankle support, and waterproof.

        Bring one of these [katadyn.ch] for yourself, and recommend that each group member brings their own.
        Bring one of these [leatherman.com].
        These are great too [campmor.com], you'll want dry feet.

        Some sort of protective glove [mytoolstore.com]. Leather/Kevlar etc are all good. Bring a box of nitrile gloves [coleparmer.com] t
      • Re:Boots not shoes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by shawb (16347) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:24PM (#13681416)
        What you'd really want is a pair of Redwing 2245's [redwingshoe.com]. Kinda expensive, but the best piece of footwear I've ever seen. Extremely durable. Waterproof ABOVE the boot for short periods of time in my experience camping in the Minnesota boundary waters (IE accidentally stepping in water and quickly pulling your foot out, or even briefly fording shallow water, socks will stay completely dry below the bootline.) Extremely light, not very clunky. VERY comfortable... Once the boots are broken in your feet won't hurt even after a day of walking on concrete carrying heavy construction materials. Grips great on just about any surface...

        Biggest problem you'd probably run into is enough time to break them in. It takes about a day or two of walking before they're really comfortable (Although non-broken in Red Wing shoes/boots seem to be at least as comfortable as a cheap pair of boots.)

        Although I suppose the most important thing to have down there is a contact... someone who knows were help is needed, where to get supplies, knows somewhere you can stay, etc. Without knowing someone, you won't be able to actually get anything productive done, possible even just getting in the way. Red Cross, local churches, or government organizations may be the best place to look for contacts if you don't have any yet at this point.

        Besides that, lots of fresh drinking water (for you and for people you are helping), non-perishable food, basic hand tool kit. Make sure to pack enough toiletries for yourself. A good reserve of hard cash for gas on the way, plus buying those things you forgot is also a must.
      • Not jungle boots (Score:4, Informative)

        by sn00ker (172521) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:00PM (#13681613) Homepage
        Being involved with the Fire Service here in NZ, I can say that the last thing you want are boots that intentionally leak. If you're stepping in small, polluted puddles, it's better to keep the water out entirely.
        Also, jungle boots won't provide much protection from debris. You need the steel shank and toe cap mentioned in other posts. Dropping stuff on your feet is a MUCH bigger risk than wet feet. You're not going to be stuck wearing these boots for days on end, so forget about trench foot. You'll be able to take them off at night, dry your feet - take talcum/baby powder along, for precisely this purpose - and pack wet boots with newspaper overnight. Helps them retain shape, and absorbs a shitload of moisture.

        As well as good boots, and you'll want to ensure that they're well broken-in, strong gloves. The advice given about full leather gloves is good. If you can find out what your local fire department use for cutting people out of car wrecks, you won't go far wrong.

        Ensure that every person always has on them a pair of latex or nitrile (nitrile are tougher) gloves, a few plasters, and a medium-size sterile dressing. This will provide your immediate-care supplies in the event of an injury. A big first aid kit should always be handy, but if you're 10 minutes away on the return trip you want to be able to apply pressure to a big wound. Plasters are good for covering blisters, too, until you can deal with them properly.

        Also, take a "personal line". That's about three-to-five metres of light rope, which you can use for tying things up, or off, or for lashing boards together to make it easier to drag a bundle of them. A carabiner is nice to have, too.

        Lastly, take cargo pants, or better yet army surplus combat pants. They're designed to take punishment (usually they have double layers on the knees, for example), and they have big pockets. Pockets are good. Hard-shell kneepads could also be highly beneficial. If you're kneeling on rubble, you only want to be doing it for a couple of minutes on any given day. After that you'll be crying out for knee pads. The soft ones worn by tilers tear easily, so something like skaters wear is better.

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by maotx (765127) <maotx@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:00PM (#13681284)
      Don't forget a radio. From what I hear the Freeplay lifeline radios [ccrane.com] are great.
      They do not require any batteries, picks up AM, FM, and Shortwave, designed to withstand "harsh conditions", and is powered by solar and/or wind-up. That and if you purchase one they automatically donate another to the Freeplay Foundation [freeplayfoundation.org] to help orphaned children in Africa.

      Next step up would be to have a ham license so you could talk back. Although...in an emergency I'm not sure how strict the FCC would be if you didn't have one.
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fjornir (516960) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:35PM (#13681800)

        This is in response to your comment but largely addressed to the submitter -- maotx, please don't take the "you" personally in all of this. :)

        It's my feeling that every geek should get their ham license. It costs $14 and it's good for 10 years. The study guide for the technician license is published by the arrl [arrl.org] and it's called "Now You're Talking". Given that most geeks already know ohms law and how to handle simple wavelengthfrequency conversions you've almost passed right there. Beyond that there's a lot of really obvious stuff ("Why should you wear a hardhat and safety glasses when helping someone work on a tower?" "Er. To protect my eyes and my head..." ). The exam is given in a multiple choice format -- any answer which includes the phrase "control operator" is correct.

        Even if you know jack-shit about radio you'll come close to passing just by picking the "correct-looking" answer off the test. SAT style guesswork. Large portions of the exam can easily be gamed: they publish all of the questions, right answers, and wrong answers which will appear on your exam. The hardest part (unless you're really good at rote memorization) is probably memorizing the beginning and end frequencies of each of the bands. This is easy to game because of all of the answers which will appear on your exam only one of them will have the correct width for the band. AA9PW [aa9pw.com] has practice exams on his website. Try it and you'll be amazed at how close you are to passing right now. A single night of study will bring you up to a passing mark.

        Don't try and skip on the exam and operate without a license. If you're seriously putting together a convoy to go into the area you can easily get a licensed operator to come in with you and handle any radio contacts on your group's behalf. If you don't know a ham then look up a local club on the ARRL -- or call a local fire department or hospital and ask for the contact information for the local ARES/RACES group. Odds are one of them would love to go down with you -- and will be an extra set of hands. The HAM you get to go with you will probably have a lot better emergency equipment than your group will -- and will have already spent a lot of time drilling for emergencies.

        73 DE KE7EWX

        • Just got my license (Score:3, Informative)

          by Migraineman (632203)
          I took my exam on 10 September, and was in the FCC database by 12 September. The ARRL welcome package showed up about a week later, then another week and my official paper package from the FCC arrived. The entire process was painless. And yes, the recent disaster scenarios played into motivating me to actually go take the test.

          I'm licensed Technician, but I passed all the written exams up through Amateur Extra. I studied pretty hard for the Technician exam, and I must admit that the practice exams ove [eham.net]
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tiger4 (840741)
      Several changes of clothes. It is hot and humid, but that will change soon, so bring a mix of warm and cool weather things. Bring things you don't mind getting dirty in, but that wash up easily. You don't know where your nearest laudry will be.

      Mosquito repellant and sunscreen. Lotion. A hat/cap/visor. Sun glasses, if you are so inclined.

      Gloves and boots. Goggles might be handy, depends on what sort of labor you plan on doing.

      A journal and pen. Not a PDA and stylus, a real book and a pen. You may w
    • Hurricane Supplies (Score:2, Informative)

      by TheEngineer (625438)
      As a utility engineer for the local Power Company in the Mississippi gulf coast area, I can say that all houses/businesses/etc... that CAN take power have power. So, electricity is somewhat available.

      The areas that can not take power are so destroyed that all that really needs to be done is to have the debris cleaned up from the lot. you might even have to help tear the entire house down.

      If you do come here to help, bring enough materials, raw goods, supplies to sustain YOURSELF, As if you don't then you'l
  • by wingman358 (912560) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:43PM (#13681185)
    I'd check out the Red Cross website or something. Or perhaps you could check this [ready.gov] out, some good ideas there.
  • by blackmonday (607916) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:44PM (#13681187) Homepage
    Well, since you asked what *I* would bring, I would bring some Lucinda Williams records along with whatever supplies I took. Hew songs extensively canvas the Louisiana spirit, and It would remind me of what a great part of America that really is. Start with "Crescent City" off her self titled album.

  • by TEMM (731243) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:44PM (#13681190)
    Lets see... Hammers, Nails, Chainsaw, good old handsaw, axes some saw horses stuff you dont need electricity for.
  • Essentials (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crimoid (27373) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:44PM (#13681191)
    Personally I'd bring...

    Food
    Water
    Shelter (canvas tents, large)
    Tools (Tarps, gloves, hand saws, hammers, crowbars)
    Large Commercial-grade trash bags
    Cheap duffle bags / backpacks
    Bicycle(s)
    • Re:Essentials (Score:3, Informative)

      by trewornan (608722)
      Survival guides tend to prioritze the basic necessities as:
      1. Warmth / Shelter
      2. Clean water
      3. Signalling
      4. Food
      Food last because you can survive for a long time without it. But the area is now past the point where basic survival is the problem, rebuilding infrastructure is another matter. What would you put first in a prioritised list of infrastructure? Personally I'd say sewerage then electrical power.
  • by MightyMait (787428) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:45PM (#13681198) Journal
    All your favorite Linux distros so you can "secure" all the Windows machines you find.
  • TWO WORDS. (Score:5, Funny)

    by eosp (885380) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:46PM (#13681203) Homepage
    Duct tape.
  • by puzzled (12525) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:47PM (#13681206) Journal

        You'll need a brick wall to bang your head and a baseball bat might help with federal officials. I volunteered, I rounded up some donated equipment for wireless ISPs who flocked to the area, and they totally got the run around from FEMA. A group of twenty five traveled to Kelly AFB on their own dime to lay in a phone system for evacuees and SBC had done the deed two days before they got there. FEMA coordination indeed!

        If you're doing bricks & mortar stuff you'll probably get a lot further, but the technology relief stuff is just a joke - its going to be total pork barrel for the Haliburton sized companies of the world.

        Good luck!
    • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:56PM (#13681263) Homepage Journal
      FEMA is being seriously hampered by homeland security.
      It seems adding another layer of management didn't help anything, who would have thunk ?
    • If you believe Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], just about everything project down there will be "pork barrel", as it is localized spending being footed by the entire population.

      Furthermore, just because a company is big, it doesn't mean they're bad or inefficient(though often it can be the case). Companies don't grow to that size by being incompetent and performing poorly (although they sometimes do).

      Sure, I'm sure smaller firms could do the same job for less, but thats where lobbyists come in.
    • by Comatose51 (687974) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:44PM (#13681527) Homepage
      Amen! I volunteered at the Dallas Convention Center a week after the storm. I can't say enough times how I HATE FEMA. They couldn't get their network connections works for a few days so we ended up doing their job by registering people on the FEMA site on our donated computers. One day, they just commandeered our PCs.

      One of them told us, "People don't need Internet and email. They need money!" Yes, they need money but they also need to find their family too! You have no idea how helpful the Internet was to those people in locating each other, even though most were computer illiterate and had us operate the computers. Many thanks to Yahoo and MSNBC. The MSNBC site was extremely helpful the first night they got to Dallas because the Red Cross site wasn't very easy to use. It was a general disaster victim registration site that was slow and required your mother and father's names. Then by other organization's good intentions, we ended up with multiple sites that we need to search to find people. Finally Yahoo stepped in and created a web search that would search all the major ones.

      Anyways, to the original poster, if you have no experience don't go! Donate material and help collect them but you won't be much help.

    • I do a lot of work for a charter aviation company. 4 days after the first storm, I got them to donate a G-IV, fully fueled and staffed to fly to wherever on the Gulf coast someone might need to go. I tried the Red Cross and a couple of other places but couldn't get anyone to take me up on the offer. Don't know what the story was, maybe there wasn't a working airport in the area that could take the Gulfstream but it seemed like a good offer.
  • Given the deep hate of spam around here, I don't imagine you'll need to bring much to make a stop by Ronnie Scelson's [usatoday.com] house to point and laugh.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:47PM (#13681214)
    Everything you will need for 12 days, plus everything you will be bringing on top of that to help out. This includes food, water, shelter, fuel, a spare tire for the U-Haul, etc..

    The very worst thing you could do would be to arrive there and become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

    It might also help if you got an invitation from officialdom, with some idea of where they think they need to put resources first, so that you maximize your value, and have written official sanction to even be in the area you can show to the guards at the blockades.

    -- Terry
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I just came from Mississippi(Wiggins) 2 days ago, and I'm now sitting in a FEMA relief camp in Beaumont, TX in an office/mapping trailer. Right now, the love bugs are getting bad, so take some insect repellent. Also, whatever tools/clothes you need, including long pants because of the chiggers. Flashlights are also a must. Bring along a few cases of water, the humidity will really start getting to you. If you have anything you can bring to cool you off, i reccomend you do so. It's not too bad there oth
  • Meh... (Score:2, Funny)

    I already live here, so please, feel free to bring along a *AHEM50inTVAHEM* so I can watch TV like a king.

    (*Disclaimer: I do live in Mississippi [Ocean Springs])
  • don't go (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:53PM (#13681242) Homepage Journal
    clearly you do not undertstand what a disaster is like, and have little or no training. Stay away, or send people who know what they are doing.

    Your intentins are good, but if you don't have training you will be a hinderance and a liability.

    • Re:don't go (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Azarael (896715)
      I disagree, look at who some of the so called experts are anyway. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to clear smaller debris and help people sort out their belongings. Just use common sense, make sure you deal with the people that own any property you're working on and stay far away from any situations you don't feel comfortable with.
    • Re:don't go (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tiger4 (840741) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:28PM (#13681438)
      Wrong.

      The disaster is basically over. This is the rebuilding time. They need grunt labor and they need brains. There is food for the workers, if you don't mind "one size fits all" menus. Finding shelter might be a problem if they don't bring their own or make good arrangements.

      Other than that, from what I've heard from people that have been there and back, the big clue is to tie in with community groups and steer clear of FEMA and the state government. They are trying to do Big Picture rebuilding. The community groups are trying to help reassmemble people's lives.
    • Your intentins are good, but if you don't have training you will be a hinderance and a liability.

      Have you considered the possibility that they have contacted an organization that's accepting gofers to help with the work? According to the tone of your post, they're obviously just loading up some carfuls of people and driving down there with no planning whatsoever, but I don't think this is what's going on.
    • Re:don't go (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CommandNotFound (571326) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:38PM (#13681494)
      Sorry, but that is simply wrong. It takes little training to clear debris, cut trees and limbs, rip out sheetrock, etc. Yes, you could get hurt, probably just minor cuts and bruises, but it's not much different then cleaning your yard, just on a larger scale. Just don't crawl under downed trees or get near power lines.

      I'm not pointing you out with this statement, but the notion that it takes an "expert" to help people is a bad one, IMO. The American way (at least down South, still, and probably in the Mid-West) is to roll up one's sleeves and get to work without waiting for the "authorities" or Uncle Government to arrive.

      The original poster will do fine; he will help several families, learn about an area of the country he may never have seen before, learn new skills, and gain a lot of intangibles from the experience. But be a hindrance or liability? Nah...
      • Sorry, but that is simply wrong. It takes little training to clear debris, cut trees and limbs, rip out sheetrock, etc. Yes, you could get hurt, probably just minor cuts and bruises, but it's not much different then cleaning your yard, just on a larger scale. Just don't crawl under downed trees or get near power lines.

        Sorry, but this is simply oversimplifying the situation to the extreme. ;-) First off, you have no idea what the situation is like there. Second, did you know, for example, the utter chaos t

    • Re:don't go (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pNutz (45478) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:44PM (#13681525)
      Neither do you, certainly not one of this size, or you would know people need all the help they can get.

      Can you use a hammer? Great, then you can frame a house.
      Can you use a shovel? Great, then you can help clean the two feet of mud out of some peoples' houses.
      Can you talk to people on a phone? Great, then you can help relay calls to relatives in different shelters or shore up the help lines at utilities' or relief orgs' call centers. You see, most people who really need to can't go to www.fema.gov or the like.
      Can you spare some plastic containers/chest-like things? Building materials? Cleaning supplies? Shovels, axes, chainsaws, drills... no clothes please, by the way. We've got quite enough.
      Do you know how to build/fix any part of a house? If you do, could you show me and others?
      Could we have some jobs? You don't have to be Halliburton to bring business down here.

      We need long term help, especially. Medical care, jobs, schools, houses, neighborhoods. The Military just get people off their roofs and make sure they don't starve or kill each other. The Red Cross if for emergency relief, and who knows if they'll share their overly large (70%) share of the donations. FEMA is for, apparently, acting as a political lightening rod and blaming Ray Nagin for everything.

      Anything will do. People that "know what they are doing" are doing a shit job of it. People who have seen whats happening and just come down to do whatever they can have done the best job. By far.
    • Your intentins are good, but if you don't have training you will be a hinderance and a liability.

      Bullshit. It sounds good at first but it breaks down when you think about it. As long as they bring food and shelter for themselves everything they do is appreciated and useful. Training is better, co-ordinated trained people are best but no one is useless. Turning people away for lack of paper work "certs" is one of the worst things that happened [64.233.187.104]. All help is appreciated by decent people and there are pl

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You will want a few useful things. This is my experience based on working with the feds:

    You'll want shelter, either provided to you or taken with you.

    You'll want food and something to cook on. A propane camp stove would be perfect. Coleman makes a nice 2 burner stove. Food should be as nonperishable as possible.

    Clean clothes and comfy shoes are a must.

    If you want power for cell phones, GPS, 2 way radios, etc, I would suggest getting one of those emergency car starters. These are sealed lead acid batter
    • If you want power for cell phones, GPS, 2 way radios, etc, I would suggest getting one of those emergency car starters.

      I just thought of this one. Look up the local radio frequencies online before you go, and write them down. Additionally, make a phone call to the local fire/rescue service and ask them if there are any frequencies you can broadcast on to get help in case of an emergency. Call the non-emergency number during business hours to get this information, of course.

  • Suggestions:

    Flashlight: A small LED Light. This one [amondotech.com] fits in the palm of your hand and comes with 5 extra batteries.

    Multitool: One of these [leatherman.com] should do nicely.

  • by Valarauk (670014) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @07:56PM (#13681265)
    A towel is about the most massively useful thing your going to be able to bring.

    :)

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:00PM (#13681281)
    because your labour is going to be your most valuable contribution. It's easy to give money and materiel, but they need "boots on the ground" to physically help with clearing out the damage and to rebuild. I wish you luck and God speed on a noble effort. Regards,
  • You really should be asking the people setting up the trip this question. They should have a good idea what's there. Some things I can think of are batteries, weapons, two-way radios, shortwave receivers, food (maybe some MREs), water, trash bags, maybe a bunch of cheap cell phones to hand out (you can get these at Goodwill or some thrift store), medical equipment, flashlights, a laptop, a satellite dish, some wireless routers, a bunch of copies of the bible, a copy of Linux, and a copy of Wikipedia.
  • by deadline (14171) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:07PM (#13681316) Homepage
    Of the top of my head if I were going a damp place to work where the infrastructure was unknown:
    1. Get a tetanus shot
    2. Bring a good water filtration kit (the kind you take camping)
    3. toilet paper
    4. A good first aid kit with plenty of antibiotic cream
    5. sunscreen
    6. itch/rash cream
    7. mole skin for blisters
    8. bug repellent
    9. Pepto-Bismol (in case you eat or drink the wrong thing)
    10. duct tape, plastic tarps, and rope
    11. coffee (if you drink it)
    12. obvious things like cloths, tools, tents, food
  • A shotgun. 2nd thing: 10 cases of shells.
  • by originalhack (142366) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:08PM (#13681324)
    Amazingly enough, the purpose of your visit impacts what you need to bring quite a bit. I doubt they need random people turning up. There are certainly plenty of people whose regular jobs have disappeared for a while. Figure out why you are going, then confirm that it really needed, then pack accordingly fro a combination of your mission's needs and FULL self-sufficiency.
  • For the residents:
    Shoes, clothes, books, tools - should be enough to get you started

    For you:
    Here's a short list of what I'd consider essential for demolition and cleanup work (I did this kind of work for ~5 years, but don't assume that this is comprehensive)
    Comfortable clothes that you don't mind being ruined, large selection of tools (at a minimum, I'd recommend hammers (30oz framing hammer), drill, circular saw, chainsaw, reciprocating saw with lots of exta blades, wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes (not a
  • You're in Nebraska. It'll take you a day or better to get down to the coast. Presumably you're going in a caravan. IE - multiple vehicles. Plus you're towing a trailer. Lots of gas. *Lots*.

    Save that money and send it to a foundation or fund that's already working in that capacity. You're only going to get in the way. It's not like there's a great need for people to come down and fix homes or help with cleanup. The people in Pass Christian and Hancock County lost *everything*. Not just their homes, but thei
  • Push your bloody rich government to help and take care of these people -it's their duty to do it, AFAIK- and be a volunteer in some third world country that really needs volunteer people.

  • Your group should already have made contact with another church in the area and asked them for sponsorship and a project that your group could contribute toward. The sponsoring church and project will dictate what you need to bring. If you did not do that already and expect to just jump in a truck with a vague plan to offer your help, then you are fools who are not needed in the area. Stay home. In any case, this was a really, really dumb question to be asking slashdot.

    But if you decide to go anyway,
  • Having done some cleanup work after Andrew...nah, that was completely different...

    To all those folks having Mad Max and Postman and Tank Girl apocalyptic delusions, beware. Louisiana is hot and humid. It's not, as a bunch of posters seem to think, going to be a camping trip. It won't be some Fallout II New Reno environment with ammo and hidden loot in destroyed buildings. Supplies that are useful on a camping trip may not be quite as useful in a flooded city.

    Bring a towel.

    No seriously. Bring those moist tow
    • Specifically, a few boxes of latex medical gloves, and a pair of sturdy leather work-gloves from Home Depot (bonus points if you get UL-certified non-conducting ones). Tape is also useful - electrical and duct. Trick I learned last time I worked in a not-so-clear marine environment: before you go out, put on a pair of latex gloves. Then wrap a round or two of electrical tape around the glove, just before the end of it (if done properly, this should make a pretty good seal between the glove and your hand, wi
    • Supplies that are useful on a camping trip may not be quite as useful in a flooded city.

      Speaking of which, a few sump pumps would probably be very useful.

  • Here's what I brought down to the gulf...

    1) Sunscreen
    2) Ballcap
    3) Sunglasses
    4) Bugspray
    5) Hand sanitizer
    6) First aid kit (for splinters, blisters, cuts)
    7) Neosporin or some other anti-bacterial cream
    8) Allergy tablets (I always get f*cked up in a new climate)
    9) Comfortable shoes and lots of clean socks
    10) Something to while away downtime. I suggest the "Su Doku for Dummies" book. Hours of puzzle-solving fun and no electricity needed.

    Be prepared to rough it. Don't expect a king-sized bed at the Omni. I just
  • Things I have thought I would want there...

    An axe...get a good single bit two handed axe, learn to use it properly. It can serve as many kinds of hammers and has a nice sharp edge for all sorts of cutting.

    Cooking pots, the deep kind

    Rolls of clear plastic sheeting, with this and the cooking pots above you can distill water

    Solar cells, batteries, power inverter, power tools, windmills?, hand tools,

    First aid gear, dont stop with bandages and peroxide. Get some of the more advanced stuff, learn to use it. Du
  • by CommandNotFound (571326) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:26PM (#13681431)
    I just received an email from our church who is sending another crew down this weekend. Here are some items they requested. This may help:

    rice, soy sauce, ramen noodles/soup packs, pre-sweetened drink mix (Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, Gatorade, etc.), shovels, rakes, and hoes.

    I was down there helping my brother and family, and here's some things I would suggest:
    • Many handkerchiefs. Use them to cover your face when you're shoveling foul water/mud/spoiled food, although bad food is probably largely gone by now. Also good as do-rags and sweat rags.
    • Plain water will get boring quickly, so bring some gatorade mix and mix it half-strength.
    • A small (2-3ft) crowbar
    • A utility knife and blades
    • A hammer, philips, and flathead screwdriver
    • Pliers
    • Get a cheap leather tool belt from Harbor Freight, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. so you're not always looking for the above tools
    • Several pairs of gloves, including at least one pair of heavy latex/rubber gloves.
    • Of course, remind your planners to bring plenty of fuel, food, and water. And chainsaws. :)

    Those are the things I used the most often when I was down there. Most of all, don't approach the coast with a feeling of dread. Unlike what the media has portrayed and focused upon in a few areas in New Orleans, the attitudes of the people there are upbeat and industrious, if a little haggard. The physical destruction is as bad or worse than portrayed on TV, but the "people" situation is much more positive. Mississippi Coast'ians (I'm one of them) are survivors.

    BTW, thanks for the help on behalf of those directly affected (I live several hundred miles inland and so wasn't affected). FEMA is doing a fantastic job, but the job is so large that churches and other volunteer groups are needed to fill in the gaps. For instance, my grandmother had an Indiana church group clean out several pecan trees that were down in her front yard last week. We couldn't find an available crew to hire for it, and they just showed up out of the blue and did it for her! It really makes a difference.

    BTW, parts of Slidell should have power now, and I know Picayune has full power (15 mins. from Slidell on the MS border). If you need accomodations, check with First Baptist of Picayune, and they may be helpful. I noticed from their website that Beatrice in Nebraska is the adopted "sister city" of Picayune for the disaster, so you may can use resources from both those cities if you need it. Beatrice Link [ne.gov]

    You're not only doing God's work, but that of a fine American. Thanks.
  • Speaking as a Search and Rescue volunteer, I'd say to keep in mind that your first priority is always to take care of yourself. If you're not self-sufficient, you're going to be imposing a burden on someone else. That means having food, water, shelter, clothes, and so on. I carry all of these (and a good deal more in terms of radios, medical equipment, rescue gear, and so on) in my trunk at all times, enough for a few days at least.

    I don't know what the situation is down there and what exactly they might
  • by Gumpmaster (756851) <richiegonewild@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:31PM (#13681451)
    I used to be a soldier at Ft. Polk, Louisianna. The following is, from my recollection, a typical packing list (in mostly civillian terms) that I'd use for a week long trip to the swamps:

    -A stout bag that you can carry on your back

    -2 1quart canteens and 1 2quart canteen plus water purification tablets

    -One set of outer clothes (Definately long pants and a light long sleeve shirt). Army style clothing is really the most usefull. It has been perfected over the years.

    Army style jungle boots. They have holes to let the water drain out. I wouldn't use goretex boots. They keep your feet to hot and keep the water in.

    -One set of underclothes for each day. Lots of wool socks. Cotton is worthless when wet.

    -A mosquito net and lots of 100% deet insect repellant. The mosquitoes are really bad. Also bring some hydrocortizone cream.

    -one full days worth of food

    -Ear plugs for sleeping next to generators.

    -Notebook and several pens/pencils

    I'm sure there's other stuff I left off, but this is a meager start at least. Louisianna this time of year is still pretty hot. Sleeping outside sucks. The mosquitoes are bad. It stinks because everything is so warm and moist. It would be a horrible place to live if it weren't for the people. They are very genuine and kind and really rather pleasant to be around.

  • A spare is a good idea, but as much debris as there will be , u might want to bring two,
    and bring some tire plug kits from autozone, pep boys, o'reilly's , etc etc .

    Water will be needed, food, make sure and bring sunblock, mosquito repellent, mosquito netting,
    and a First Aid Kit .

    If your working near trees with debris hanging in them, and the wind is going good,
    bring a hard hat, safety rated one .

    Multiple light sources, laterns, flashlights, lots of batteries and fuel for them .

    Any good common over the coun
  • My List (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ratbert42 (452340) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @08:34PM (#13681470)
    I went out with a church group a week after Hurricane Charley last year.

    We spent most of our time cutting up fallen trees. We pretty much destroyed every "homeowner" chainsaw in a few hours. Don't even bother bringing those. The only ones that made it were commercial Stihl ones. The same with any handsaws, axes, etc. It's just too hot to do that sort of physical work. There was a huge amount of work and we could have used almost one chainsaw per person.

    On the other hand, if you're going to have people inexperienced with chainsaws, bring some trauma dessings. Dead serious. I saw a lot of very close calls and chainsaws are a huge cause of post-storm injuries. Spend some time up-front and really go over chainsaw safety and technique. A lot of the close calls came because of someone getting a saw stuck and doing crazy things to try to free it.

    What we learned was to focus on just cutting trees that could make a difference. Don't burn out clearing all the debris out of a few yards. There'll be time for that later. Just clear their driveway, electrical feed, any trees right next to the house, anything on a car or building, etc. I was amazed that one and two weeks later there were still people with their car trapped under or behind a fallen tree.

    We also used plastic sheeting and roofing nails to do temporary roofing repairs. Ladders, hammers, etc. If you can get plywood, tar paper, etc., you could do more permanent work, but you'll run into problems as unlicense contractors.

    We brought a lot of water to hand out, but there were very few takers. Everywhere we went had plenty of water. Everyone could have used more ice and coolers (even the cheap styrofoam disposables). Anything you can bring to occupy children will be welcome. The church we base-camped at had sort of a hurricane relief festival going on all weekend. Food vendors (free), donated clothing and supplies, children games, chainsaw sharpening and repair (free), etc. It was very well received.

    Sleeping in a hurricane zone is rough. No way around it. A generator and an oscillating fan help a lot. Any sort of shower system would help.

    A thing that was in short supply was reliable information. Find out where the local resources are and spread the word.

    You need to make sure that your volunteers are insured. Any real volunteer organization will carry workman's comp for their volunteers. If you're going with Southern Baptist, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Salvation Army, etc. make sure you're covered.
  • I think a more pertinent question would be...

    What would Jesus bring?

    Cheers.
  • It seems to me the smart thing to do is to get a contact down there first who can set you up with an initial task. That way when you show up you won't be waiting around for days as people find a use for you. It shouldn't be hard just call county clerk offices in differing cities and if they can't directly set you up with something I'm sure they can direct you to someone who can.
  • Dehydrated food (costs about $4 a meal, but you save in shipping weight), and as many portable water filters as possible (Ketadyn makes a ceramic one that's very good, albeit expensive, filtering down to .2 microns or so).
  • lotta people lost houses and phone service will be spotty. buy a bagful of em' and keep one or two for yourself.
  • GET A TETANUS SHOT (Score:4, Informative)

    by redtest (919068) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:00PM (#13681612)
    Make sure to get at least a tetanus shot. You may also want to begin your hepatitis A and B vaccination sequences soon enough before you go to make sure that they provide some resistance. also, bring some sturdy gloves (leather), bottled water, and food. Just make sure to get those shots.
  • What to bring ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:21PM (#13681716) Homepage Journal
    I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so I went thru a handful of nasty hurricanes, including two Cat 5s. Here's what I would do if I had to spend any time in a disaster area like that:

    1. You want it, you carry it. Assume there is nothing available. That means stock up on asthma medicine, painkillers, contact lenses, whatever it is that YOU need. This is before you worry about what to bring to others.

    2. Footgear: Ideally you should be wearing sturdy waterproof footgear, boots if possible. Sneakers are a no-no. You can easily twist an ankle stepping over debris, and a nail will pierce thru your sneaker soles as if it is not even there. Plus you don't want to get your feet wet in that kind of environment. Carry extra socks and foot powder too.

    3. You can't carry too many batteries or too many ziploc bags.

    4. Carry some wet wipes, these are very handy and can be used for many things. Get a couple packs with something like aloe vera and a couple with clorox, lysol, etc.

    5. Flood areas, especially in the south, have terrible mosquito control issues. Repellent sucks but still beats the alternative.

    6. Unless you have solid housing arrangements, that is, unless you know you are sleeping at an air conditioned room, find a mosquito net. Sure, it will be hot as hell, but I would rather be hot and without bug bites.

    7. Fluids! Unless specifically arranged for, you have to assume there is no drinking water available. When Hurricane Hugo struck Puerto Rico in 1989 I had to drink warm coke for about 5 days. We had plenty of stuff to drink, but we were told to not trust water, period.

    In my case the worst was the lack of electricity and potable water. Our house was hurricane-proof, so if it flooded all we had to do was hose down the walls (cement) and floors (marble), repaint and replace furniture and appliances. That means that once the flooding receded we could go back to clean the house and make it habitable again instead of having to stay at a shelter and risk getting sick.
  • Don't come (Score:4, Interesting)

    by humankind (704050) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:54PM (#13682155) Journal
    No disrespect intended, but it's too little, too late now.

    I'm in New Orleans. I've been here since the hurricane. I've been rescuing people and pets. What we do not need at this time are people coming into the city clogging things up. Many of the aid stations have shut down because, contrary to what the media may be reporting, the outskirts of the city are slowly coming back into operation. So there's not much you can really do except get in the way.

    Yea, you can come down and offer to help people with manual labor, but the media has scared the crap out of everybody with all the overblown looter/sniper reporting, you're likely to find people more suspicious than thankful.

    I wish it weren't so, but that's the way it is.

    If you want to help, don't vote Republican any more. Honestly, this will do more to help people in the area than anything else you can do. The current administration is giving away most of the federal aid to a small number of politically-connected corporations friendly with the current administration. At least the democrats put more emphasis on middle class and education.

    We're screwed. I don't even want to talk about it honestly. I'm totally burned out from what I've had to go through.
    • Re:Don't come (Score:3, Interesting)

      by VeriTea (795384)
      I think you meant to say "don't vote Democrat in Louisiana anymore". If you believe the media circus about FEMA failing as first-response agency you have been sadly mislead. First response has always been a state and local government function, no exceptions. Louisiana as a state and New Orleans as a city badly failed to plan for a hurricane, to develop a response plan, or to properly manage the aftermath. For example, the governor herself prevented the Red Cross from providing relief (out of fear that i
  • by humankind (704050) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:19PM (#13682231) Journal
    I'm down here in the middle of this mess. I've been helping with rescue efforts. The rescue efforts are over. The relief efforts are, for the most part, over as well.

    If you want to help us, the best thing you can do is make sure the media's prototypically-short attention span doesn't waiver from the fact that this area needs help... big help.. not some church group handing out towels.

    What we need are people WATCHING THE MONEY that's being spent down here. That's where we need the most help. If we don't get it, New Orleans is going to end up like Iraq... with billions given to politically-connected special interest groups and no substantive infrastructure or improvement. That's the legacy the current administration is doing in the wake of an ADD populace who isn't paying attention.

    What we need most are people who are paying close attention to what the feds are doing. The people of the Gulf Coast can deal with things. If you REALLY want to help, be active politically, and insist that taxpayer money goes directly to local communities instead of Halliburton. Right now, a shitload of federal money is going to Halliburton, just like it is in Iraq.

    Don't come down here. Get on the phone and call your representatives and demand that the resources dedicated to this area are not squandered away in a plethora of no-bid contracts. That's what's happening now. Everything else is paltry compared to this.

    If you really want to help, that's what you need to do. If you want to go on some goofy, fuzzy, feel-good, field trip that won't make any significant difference, go ahead with your other plans. But I sincerely urge you to seriously consider what I'm saying. I cannot stress how important it is. WATCH THE MONEY LIKE A HAWK!! We are going to get screwed if the American people don't pay attention!
  • by humankind (704050) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:50PM (#13682316) Journal
    Please accept my apology in advance but the more I think about this thread, the more it upsets me.

    I don't see a group of people wanting to help others. I see a group wanting to make itself feel better by wandering into a disaster area and getting in the way.

    98% of what others have posted here is not relevant.

    It doesn't matter where you go in the affected areas. By the time you get down here, essentials will be available everywhere. Right now, even in the most outlying areas, essential supplies, including gas, are readily available. Food, water, repellant, tools, gas. It's all available within a convenient distance now. You're too late.

    I've been in the area since the storm. I've lived in New Orleans for 20+ years. I've been all over the area. I've been on boats. I've been rescuing people, animals, handing out food, you-name-it, I've done it.

    You guys are leaving in a few weeks? What for? It's all over now.

    Let me be blunt. Don't use us as an excuse to make yourselves feel better about yourselves.

    What you can expect to find is a string of communities working hard to rebuild and your U-Haul won't make a difference. Maybe if you had been down here three weeks ago it might have, but honestly, at this late point, it's more a superficial, shallow token than any real needed help. You come down here you're going to be IN THE WAY. Yea, if you're giving stuff away, you'll find people who will appreciate it, but the gesture is largely ceremonial and you might want to re-examine whether or not you're doing this for yourselves as opposed to those who have been victimized.

    With all due respect, I am resentful of the little media circus you've staged on Slashdot.

    If you want to help, you'll offer a place to stay up where you are for refugees and offer them conveniences there. Coming down here is SELFISH.

    If you come down here you're going to run into one of two scenarios:

    a) A city that is in the process of getting back up to speed and you're in the way. You can do what other people have done, which is just set up somewhere and give out shit and people will line up, but most of the people will be the type that just take anything that's free and you'll just be enabling a bunch of freeloaders. We don't need that.

    b) A "no-mans-zone" where everything has been destroyed and people are coming in and getting their shit and leaving. Again, you'll be in the way, unless you're brave enough to enter some of these flooded residences and help residents get a few precious items. But trust me, you'll spend about 10 minutes in one of these cesspools and decide you'd rather be back watching FOX on cable, so do us a favor and don't bother. The people who are in the hardest hit areas are getting their stuff and leaving... and if you want to help them, get them a goddam place to live.. don't come down and hover over the entrails that was their home handing out water bottles.

    Please do not exploit us for your own selfish psychological needs. Many have come down here long before you people decided way too late that maybe you could launch some "humanitarian mission" and have been turned away.

    If you want to help those affected by Katrina, go to one of the shelters housing evacuees. Those people are the ones that need the most help. The people that are in the city now are self-sufficient, or they have places to go. God is watching. Think about it. Don't use us. We've been abused already. Go to Houston or Dallas or Arkansas and help people in the shelters. DON'T COME to the affected area. Those that are down here have what they need. If you come down here and you ignore the people that are displaced in shelters, that's the biggest sin of all, at the expense of your selfish need to feel useful according to your own terms, in blatant disregard for the real needs of those affected by this tragedy.
    • All over now? Really? Well, tell that to Waveland, MS, which is practically gone. Tell that to the owners of the 65,000+ homes that were completely destroyed on the MS Gulf Coast. Tell that to the people down here who still wait for hours to get food at what few stores that are open. Tell that to all the elderly people who still have fallen trees in their yards with no one to help remove them unless they pay some inflated price. Tell that to the people who had damage to their power meters or power mas

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