Hurricane Katrina

Tonight was the first time I sat down to watch the TV about Hurricane Katrina. Man, New Orleans and the surrounding areas look awful right now. News on the web is so much more muted–watching it on TV hits you in the gut. It just makes you feel helpless.

Google got a link up on the main page to donate money, which is good. They’re also matching employee donations like they did with the tsunami, so my wife and I will do that. Does anyone know of other solid charities or service organizations in addition to the Red Cross? If you have suggestions, leave them in the comments. I’d also want to hear any ways that Google could help with disasters like this in the future.

By the way, props to Amazon for providing an easy, rock-solid donate link at

Update: Jensense tells how to run Red Cross donation ads as your AdSense alternate ad.

Update: has Katrina images in Google Maps. The data is available in the API too for anyone that’s making a relief site. There’s a new entry on the Google Blog with more details. Also, Google Earth allows regular people to add data to Google Earth. Several NASA/CMU/Google people have been placing NOAA data into Google Earth via KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files. More info here: Thank you to all the people who worked hard to get this data live.

44 Responses to Hurricane Katrina (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt,
    People can also go to They have a link right on the front page of their site that allows for instant donations. They have been around for 25 years, and will make sure that the money goes to the right place for relief efforts. We are also going to be implementing employee matching donations over at promopeddler. One suggestion of how google might be able to help with the disaster is to get the lists of people reported missing from the local police departments when this calms down along with their location and put the list up on a google so that families can go to google and try and find the location of family members. You may be able to do this with an adwords campaign. I’d be glad to help.

    Lew Amicone

  2. Thanks for posting that Amazon link.

    Ways Google could help? Home page space is so precious but it could be used to provide a link to other donation sites, to Katrina and NO news, we’re all especially keen on reading blogs (like from inside New Orleans and I imagine there have been quite a few searches for them!

    You’re right about the TV news but you could rope in Right now when I search for Katrina there the second result is a message from Bishop J. Neil Alexander and that might the sort of comforting that worried relatives and friends searching for news might want.

    For events of this scale you could have a video search “hot topic” where sites with up to the minute video footage (like could have their content beamed into the index especially quickly.

    Save the Children ( has a Hurricane Katrina appeal.

  3. Google has the ability to push and pull information to and from millions of people and sources. During disasters it is critical to know where people are and that they have survived. A global repository / clearing house for information is critical — light up the toolbars and point people to that location in times of crisis. Change the color of green to red on the toolbar .. get people’s attention.

    Next … money… I’d REALLY like to see companies like Google, Amazon, Paypal which are the focal point of so much commerce get more involved. Paypal for example could allow their users who sell to opt in and say “Add $1 to this transaction for an opted in chartity”.

    Google could allow adsense publishers to say “directly donate 10% of my income to an opted in charity”. Amazon could do the same for its affiliates … etc etc .. I know, it requires an incredible investment on the behalf of corporations to put together such changes.. but then thats what makes some corporations incredible. I think the owners of the respective corporations have enough resources — personal, financial, intellectual and corporate — behind them to create a disaster clearing house.

    >> Google got a link up on the main page to donate money, which is good.

    By the way. I don’t see that donate link here in Asia. Pity — hundreds of thousands of global citizens cant see it. We use Google a lot more than Amazon.

    (Matt: Just a thought .. would appreciate if its not published)

  4. Here from Germany it looks horrible, even worse than Tsunami, because it is sad to see the superpower struggle like that and people suffering. I have a lot of friends in the states and we also try to help from here. It might be a good idea to get in touch with the New Orelans Convention and Visitors team (
    because they are locals and they can REALLY say, what is needed. Yesterday the head of the german Red Cross said: the american red cross has the necessary resouces and power, but the problem is the organization. Too much devastation in a too big area. A logistic nightmare, not a lack of resources!

  5. from what we can see in the UK, the US government is not doing enough to help the poorer people. They have sent in help to lift out the richer people out of the area, but seem to only drop supplies to the poorer people letting them fend for themselves. It looks like they have spent more money on helping other countries natural disasters, than for helping their own people when they have one. I can only say this from what we hear over here, but i hope this is not the case. It is a shocking thing that has happened and everyone should try to help, nomatter where they are.

  6. CoffeeCup Software is located in Corpus Christi, Texas (a couple of hours south of Houston), and we are calling upon anyone who receives this e-mail to send ‘Goods’ to our office. This will directly help the thousands upon thousands of American refugees that will be entering Houston, Beaumont, and througout Texas within the next days and weeks.

    Our office will collect what you send and will drive these items by cargo truck to the refugees where they are located. We have already been contacted by a few Texas churches that are housing people right now and also by the Corpus Christi Housing Authority which will be making Apartments available next week. The items you send us will be going to these and other efforts in the Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi areas.

    The charitable organizations are overwhelmed and we want to make sure the Families and Children will be given what they really need without wait. Send as much as you wish, we have plenty of storage.

    More Info:

    Our Address is:

    CoffeeCup Software
    c/o Hurricane Aid
    226 South Tancahua Street
    Corpus Christi, Texas 78401

    Please do not send food, water, or money. This will be handled by Organized Charities. Send what you would personally want if you were placed in a very uncomfortbale position for a very long time with little or no money (use your best judgement). If you would like to Donate money you can do that here: or

    More Info:

  7. American Institute of Philanthropy published a list of the charities they consider top rated for donations.

    I would also like to point out that people all around the country are opening up their homes to Katrina Victims by way of If you have an extra room or second home I strongly encourage you to consider this option.

  8. microsoft has a page of charitable links:

  9. America’s Second Harvest and Salvation Army are also collecting funds. Oxfam‘s website has a little hidden Katrina’s donation page.

    These are only for Katrina, there are other more than 100 disasters around the world like illegal wars, international policies, borders to separate rich people from poor ones, etc where people can help or not.

  10. Sorry, little problem with America’s Second Harvest link. I hope you can correct it in the original post.

  11. If there’s a donation link on, I’m not seeing it, Matt. Are you IP targeting it only to US domains? If so, don’t. People outside the US may want to donate as well.

  12. For the future:

    – Provide hi-res updated satellite photos for the affected area.

    – A donate button in the adsense/adwords accounts.

    – I don’t see a donate link in the international googles.

    Thanks for your help.

  13. Matt, Marketing Sherpa has a resource page up with industry related channels for contributions or assistance

    Continental Airlines is accepting donations of OnePass miles to organizations, and there’s a list of those organizations on their page

    For those involved with affiliate marketing, Brian Littleton of is accepting donations in the form of allocating all or part of commissions earned with a link right in the interface, and will be matching funds for contributions to the Red Cross.

    And for those who have a little love, mercy and cash to spare for relief for “four legged friends,” one of the ladies has started a thread in the special forum Haiko has set up over at where some animal relief resources are being collected.

    Unfortunately, as is too often the case, some “entrepreneurial” type people are trying to capitalize on this tragedy by saying they will donate a percentage of profits toward relief efforts in order to boost their sales. Some may be legit, but there’s no need for that. Space should be provided so that donations can be made directly..

    It would be nice if ODP could possibly set up a category for the relief efforts so that sites could be somewhat pre-screened for validity and there could be a centralized place to look.

  14. Ramon, I don’t have the ability to edit comments, so I put your second comment up. is a good suggestion–thanks to everyone for the other suggestions too. CoffeeCup, that’s fantastic. I saw the mayor of San Antonio on TV last night, and you could tell that he just wanted to help however he could. It looks like people in the surrounding states are doing whatever they can to help out.

    Probably we’re only showing the Katrina link to people from the U.S. right now. I’ll ask whether we can widen that.

  15. It would be great if Google could harness some of its resources to provide a place for people to log lost relatives names and lost relatives to let others know where they are. The gov’t doesn’t seem able to do this so far.

  16. put up a page yesterday with links to various sites, NGOs and government agencies that can help people find loved ones.

  17. Google can help!

    AdSense is 99.8% right on target, but with a fully meshed site navigation, some few pages will pick up some off-topic ads. While I was whining about it earlier this morning

    it occurred to me that instead of wrestling with the targeting, it would take about 60 seconds to log in to AdSense and replace those blocks of ads with banners for Katrina relief. The more I’m thinking about it the more I like the idea altogether.

    Some pages only have one or two blocks of ads running which leaves an additional opportunity available to run them. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to replace some ad units with Katrina relief anyway – as a way of contributing.

    I bet an awful lot of AdSense publishers would even be willing to donate a percentage of impressions (say 10%) to run banners on a rotating basis. It would take Google’s engineers or techs to figure that part out, but really – it could SO easily be done by AdSense publishers right through the interface if it were implemented.

    The banners could go to a place of Google’s choice, possibly even a page on the Google site with information and a couple of choices – like the Amazon link and/or Red Cross and/or one that takes PayPal, etc.

    And then there’s that cool artist who makes the neat Google holiday logos who could whip up some really nice banners for publishers to use for the substitutions or rotations.

  18. Hi Matt. Seems like everyone has done a great job in referring some great organizations.

    If I could do my part, I found this on AP’s site. The resolution isn’t quite as good as Google Maps, but it has current imagery that if you know people in the area with a home of business that they are worried about, they can check this out.

  19. I found another one that might that might be a little easier to navigate.

    And one more to see the before and after images.

  20. I think the biggest future benefit Google can provide is along the lines of nancyb’s comments above. Google tries to maintain a leadership position in search. People are searching for lost people and it is obviously inadequate. I would like to see google address this fully with its resources available.

  21. Hi Matt,

    Kudos to you for doing this blog.


  22. Nice to see the updated photos from NOLA.

    I hope you are going to do the same with any disaster anywhere in the world.

    Thanks again

  23. The Southern Baptist Convention is using its vast network of churches and volunteers. He is a quick recap taken from their websit:

    The number of mobile Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units has increased to 130. Feeding units in the field number 38. Southern Baptist volunteers also are manning two American Red Cross kitchens and two Salvation Army kitchens.

  24. Sorry to be the devils advocate but putting up a donation link ad or offering a donation seems to me a copout of what seems to be hapening there.
    People are dying by the minute for lack of attention and basic services.and you guys talk about chipping in some bucks?
    Your fellow citizens have been neglected for 5 days and it seems now that its only dawning on you how serious it is.The so called super power and most powerful country in the world couldn’t activate immediate logistic assistance with all its armed forces and air equipment?
    This would not have happened in my country.Our people wouldn’t have let it.
    You guys need a good look at your priorities.

  25. FEMA has a page up with information for donations or volunteering other types of assistance, with information for companies and tips about watching out to make sure things are genuine

  26. Matt

    I have started a winter clothing drive in the SEO SEM community for the victims being brought to Philadelphia to live for however long.

    I have contacted Barry Scwartz fo RustyBrick, Kim fromCR8ASite, who is also a neighbor in the area, as well as the Mayors Office.

    Our winters here are cold and harsh and as such the victims won’t have the proper winter clothing they need. The city is bringing 1,000 families here so I am shooting for donations of 5,000 winter coats, gloves, hats, scarves, boots from other SEO SEM companies around the world.

    Matt if you could get this out to the masses I would appreciate it and you will be doing more good than you could imagine.

    My site is and there is more information there as well.

    I will also be starting a webpage or website for this idea.

    I would also like to see other SEO SEM companies in the northern US who may be bringing families there to organize this type of project in their area, and all are welcome to contact me with thoughts ideas suggestions etc.

    Thank you


  27. Matt
    Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, one of the most respected groups out there, put out a pdf with their list of effective nonprofits providing hurricane relief. I don’t know how (or if there’s a way) to send it via this comment box, but if you’ll send me an email address, I’d be glad to send it to you.

  28. Hi Matt,
    Watching CNN last night. One problem is families are becoming seperated from. What is next time Google brought those people together. The ultimate search!

    Could you image the pain of missing a child? Google could help reunite child and parents. Or wife and husband.


  29. Many people in places like the Astro Dome need to have a sense of self worth. When you’ve lost everything and have no idea when your life will return to normal, gaining back your sense of self worth is something that is much easier said than done.

    One way to begin is to have a little cash your pockets. Of course in an area like the Astro Dome, this could lead to theft as all your home consists of is a small cot.

    I would like to see Google, along with MSN and Yahoo, provide some pocket money to these people along with a personal property security center. A section of post office style mail boxes with lock on keys with appropriate guards and staff.

    I believe this could be done and with the combined efforts and resourses of Google, MSN and Yahoo. They could recruit other internet companies to join them in donations plus transport in support staff to help with setup and launch of the system.

    It appears most residents of the Astro Dome and related Huston shelters are wearing ID bands. Those could not only be used to help coordintate the process of handing out the money, they could also be used as a means to provide a full list on the internet of people looking for people. Google should supply the necessary computer equipment, work with access providers and digital photographers. With so many sites currently available, it must take forever to locate them and then search. There should be one central location which could mirror to other sites….Google, MSN and Yahoo.

    –Dori Coplien

  30. Hi Matt

    In the coming weeks, the victims of Hurricane Katrina will need more stable lodging arrangements. As we already have our website set up for hosting families for vacations at no cost, we are offering people an opportunity to provide accommodations to evacuees.

    People that would like to host families can go to “Katrina Home Offer” on our site if they wish to open their homes to these victims.

    People can post “Katrina Home Offer” in the first line of the “What I Have to Offer” field when posting, to identify themself as a host.

    This is another option for people that want to help but may not be able to provide financial assistance.

    More information can be found on this page;

    Hope we can help.

    Barb Di Renzo

  31. Alastair McKenzie

    Ideas for what google could do?

    A few people starting with NancyB have already said it: do what you are best at. Provide search facilities for people to find each other.

    and I note your point about, but white who? Google is one of the best known brands on the planet. People worldwide should know that when a disaster happens they can go to “Google Disaster” or “Google Emergency Find” to start finding & posting information on missing friends & relatives. A central clearing house that everyone knows.

  32. Something very important is the family members left behind, which includes many families pets.

    To those of us who are animal lovers, losing a pet is like losing one of your children. Many people were forced to leave their pets behind. They were not allowed on the evacuation busses or in most human shelters.

    The big problem with this is they are domesticated and depend totally on us for care including food, water and love.

    Now many shelters that are collecting them, trying to reunite them with their families need our help as well.

    For many people who don’t have family, being reunited with their pets will make a world of difference. For the children and adults who have lost everything, including friends, neighbors and possibly relatives, finding their pets could really help in the healing process.

  33. Matt,

    I blogged about ways I thought Google could help back on September 1st. The Google home page link has changed to a donation link now, but my recommendations would still be the same…at least until search results shift to act as a good substitute.



  34. This is very nice

    and the People Search is an extra special touch, technology with a heart.

  35. I am so sad that this catastrophy actually happened. I mean how can such misery happen? Where is God when we need him, where is God when i cry for him? Where is he?

  36. and the People Search is an extra special touch, technology with a heart

  37. It is sad, but even worst when it falls out of the news, it tends to fall out of peoples minds. Like the Tsunami in Asia it makes few headlines and everyone forgets.

  38. It is very sad what happened in New Orleans, no question. My wifes sister lives in Florida and was there during the huricane. Nobody is able to descripe the feeling if you don’t know where your kids are.

  39. americans are brave people..i know they can survive! God bless America… , Mylene from Philippines

  40. Time Netsule lists the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund as one of its charities.

  41. This is very nice

  42. The people of the Philippines are more courageous people! God bless Rufo, Henry, Rusty, and Alan.

  43. I remember these people every year, pfff that was really bad. What to say weather will eat us alive, it is just mater of time. This time of year is tooo hot I hope that nature will not finish us too soon.

  44. I know one thing that if I donate to a charity it is not going to be the red cross. the salvation army does not pay their directors millions of dollars in salary.