Web to the Rescue

Local community websites have sprung into action to assist hurricane Katrina survivors with everything from blankets to offers of shelter in their homes. With cell and land-line phones mostly down, the web has emerged as a champion amid the wreckage. E-mail, instant messenger and blogs have proven lifelines for communication. In relief efforts, too, the internet is proving invaluable, as websites have become hubs for putting badly needed goods and services directly into the hands of people who need them most. Where organizations like the Red Cross discourage anything other than financial donations, sites like craigslist allow people to meet up with victims for face-to-face aid. Craigslist users have flooded the New Orleans site with offers of shelter and comfort. “The wonderful people of the art forum have banded together to send me care packages, donations and gift certificates since losing my house in New Orleans,” wrote one aid recipient in thanks to craigslist, signing her post simply as Shanna, formerly of New Orleans. “I have nothing left except for what fit into a Dodge Neon, and these strangers have opened their hearts to me.”

Of course there are some freaks:

[A] few posters are bartering shelter and employment for romance and sex. One poster in search of “any cute New Orleans hipster girls displaced by Katrina” wrote, “I’ll even feed you and make you breakfast if you’re nice to me and wash the dishes.”

But then others put them in their place:

After numerous posts from men requiring specific physical characteristics and photos of the women they would bestow with their kindness, a few craigslist users retaliated. In a post called “‘H’ is for ‘Hurricane,’ not ‘Hookers,’ you sleazbags,” one irate user wrote, “The men on here … should be eaten by swamp alligators, or covered with iPods and chained to a lamp post on Canal Street.”

Article here.