[Updated with phishing warning ...]
The blogosphere is reaching out today and blogging about Katrina, its victims and ways to help. The American Red Cross has pulled together an amazing resource for websites and blogs to post banners encouraging donation. This banner is being hosted via this program (their site is pretty overwhelmed, so it may take a bit to load).
FEMA has posted a list of charities. Check with your company to see if it has a matching donation program. Unfortunately, you'll also need to watch out for phishers (Wikipedia entry on phishing) ... Frank Barnako (of the MarketWatch Internet Daily) reports on FBI investigations of fraud in the guise of charitable relief:
Web sites with names such as katrinahelp.com and katrinarelief.com have been created. They refer visitors to another Web site that purports to solicit funds. There is no way, however, to know who is getting the money. A survey by MasterCard International found that after last year's tsunami in South Asia, 170 scam sites appeared soliciting money for supposed relief efforts.
Another angle on the wake of Katrina ... S. Frederick Starr writes in the NY Times (reg required) about the devastating losses of architecture and heritage in New Orleans, including his own Lombard Plantation, but offers hope and faith in the resiliance of the people of New Orleans:
Now the Lombard Plantation is under water. If it survives at all, it will need massive rehabilitation. Just as likely, it will go the way of Miss Marie's house and of hundreds of other pieces of the region's heritage.
But I do not intend to give up easily. Why? Because I am absolutely convinced that New Orleanians will not allow their city to become a ghost town. And I intend to be part of the renewal that springs from this determination.
[ ... ]
The culture of New Orleans has long since factored disasters and general uncertainty into its economic and philosophical outlook. An early-19th-century cholera epidemic killed one out of five New Orleanians, the equivalent of 100,000 today. Even the gravediggers died, forcing people to pile bodies at the cemetery gates. The first owner of the Lombard Plantation was among those who succumbed. But his wife and family stayed on, and some of their descendants, both white and black, are still in New Orleans today, perhaps perched on their rooftop awaiting rescue or huddling gratefully with friends out in Lafayette or Breaux Bridge.
I expect they, too, will return, and that life in New Orleans will go on, with all its precariousness and sense of fragility and, yes, with all its relish for the moment. That relish, by the way, which arose from the constant awareness of precisely such disasters as we are experiencing today, accounts for much of what gives the people of that city their reckless abandon, their devil-may-care attitude, and their zest for life. Rebuilding after Katrina will be just the next in a long series of events in which that spirit has been manifested.