Chasing Galaxies, Missing the Sun
This disaster is the kind, like the Sept 11 attacks, that will unite Americans. The wealthy will reach a bit deeper into their pockets, the spiritual will pray a little longer and those will able hands will work a harder. Soon, there will be benefit concerts, candy drives, fund-raisers and other ways we can take care of our brothers and sisters in the South.
In these cases, some organizations actually need the media to dessiminate information to families, survivors or the public. Red Cross may want to say "we have diapers and potable water", FEMA will want to assure folks that "help is on the way" and law enforcement agencies remind us that "looters will be arrested."
But we will also see shameless self-promotion ...organizations that dedicate PR resources to do nothing more than talk about themselves (sadly, the national media, cable channels specifically, are desperate for fresh perspectives and will interview almost any talking head to cut away from stale footage loops). All these interviews do is clog the airwaves and make it that much more difficult for the charitable organizations to let the public know how to make a real difference.
FEMA, the government's lead agent for recovery, has a list of ways to help out financially here. I will post others as I learn about them, and soon figure out how to make the list more pronounced on this blog.