Strange Musings *hyuk*
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
  9:30 PM — help?
I stumbled across the New Orleans Craig's List, and found the free section on it. There were many offers to help people contact missing friends and family in the Katrina disaster area. On a whim, I put up my own notice. Within 20 minutes, someone emailed me with the names and numbers of 4 friends and family members she had been unsuccesfully trying to contact for days. Her cellphone was no longer working as it was a New Orleans number, so they had no way to contact her, and I don't think she had a land phone to call them. As soon as my cellphone clock hit 9pm (free minutes), I started calling, and after my second try I actually got one of them. He sounded surprised that a complete stranger was calling him with the info that his friend was trying to get ahold of him. How bizzare the conversation must've sounded from his end. "Hi, is J*** there, I'm calling on behalf of L***, and she wants to know if you're ok, and to give you her office phone number. ... No, I don't know her. ... No, I live in Massachusetts. ... Ok, I'll tell her you're alright and going to try and contact her and her other friend C***." I'm glad to have helped, but it was just so bizzare. Actually, right after L*** had emailed me, I took the notice down b/c it just felt so wierd. I also had this fear that dozens of strangers would be begging for my help, and I'd be powerless to help, or I'd try to call people for hours... Well, over now, and I can feel like I did a little bit to help.

That's an unbelievably cool thing to do -- thanks for the idea!
I anticipate there's more offers than can be used for multiple reasons. For example,

* people in the affected areas won't see your craigslist post b/c they don't have internet
* trying to call in to the people in the affected areas won't work (on average) b/c even if their phone lines aren't down, too many others are trying to call in so the lines are all tied up

It's still worth a try, just don't be surprised if you make no headway. I think it's people trying to call into the area who're most likely to read your post, so aim it at them.
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