How to Find Help

Locating emergency aid, info, and resources in the wake of a disaster can be daunting. Here's where to begin

As large as the deluge that flooded much of the Gulf Coast with Hurricane Katrina, a flood of kindness has taken form as millions of individuals donate money, time and even spare bedrooms to help victims. The outpouring has been tremendous. More than $587 million has been raised so far to fund private relief efforts. Meanwhile, the government is considering more than $100 billion in public money to help bail out those who have lost their homes and businesses.

As disaster-relief efforts continue and people slowly begin to rebuild their lives, victims face the monumental challenge of connecting to resources that have been put in place for them. BusinessWeek has sifted through hundreds of public and private information sources to see just what's available for those impacted by Katrina. Below we've compiled some tips and links on where to go for the support you need:

If you're missing friends or family members:

National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) At the request of U.S. Department of Justice, NCMEC also offers a hotline: 1 888 544-5475.

Other Safelists

Multiple lists of people reported missing and people reporting their safety exist. These lists are hosted by everyone from the International Committee of the Red Cross) to news sites such as CNN) to grassroots community board craigslist) For a compendium of these lists, visit:

If you need a place to stay:, The organization and Web site that motivated so many people to take a lead in Howard Dean's 2004 campaign for President, is having a similar effect on people with beds to offer across the U.S. As of Sept. 9, 243,780 beds had been volunteered. allows people with mobile-phone connections but no computer -- almost certainly a not-insubstantial number of the evacuees -- the ability to access the housing database. This site also provides some valuable screening and safety tips, a must before sharing a home with a stranger as a visitor or a host.

Other Housing Placements lists

Houston Chronicle -- Homes Available Forum

Besides these two, plenty of places on the Net seek to connect to emergency housing opportunities. For a compendium of these lists, visit

If you need to find a pet:

The Humane Society of the U.S. This site links to shelters in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Make this your first stop.

Other Pet Resources

From small outfits like Noah's Wish to the North Shore Animal League of America, plenty of people are looking after pets. You might also try the Katrina pet-help and rescue resources at the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

If you need unemployment insurance or you want to find a job:

Apply through the Dept. of Labor in your state. Here's a list:


Alabama Dept. of Industrial Relations


Louisiana Works: Louisiana Dept. of Labor


Mississippi Dept. of Employment Security

Also, check out the federal offerings at U.S. Dept. of Labor Disaster Unemployment Assistance

And if you need more information, call the hotline: 877-US-2JOBS

If you need other government benefits:

Gov Benefits

This site offers a searchable database containing more information on available benefits from Medicaid to employment training

If you're looking for general disaster-relief sources:

FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency

State of Louisiana: Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

State of Mississippi: Emergency Management Agency

State of Alabama

State of Florida: Division of Emergency Management

If you speak only Spanish:

First Gov

In Spanish language, this offers information about resources for victims.

If you have health concerns:

Centers for Disease Control: Hurricane Katrina

How do you prevent illness, keep your food and water safe, and clean up safely in the aftermath of the storm and flood? The CDC offers basic but vital information on all of these topics.

If you rely on the government:

Social Security Administration

The site provides information on how to best receive any monthly payments you may depend on.

United States Post Office: Emergency Change of Address

This lets you change your address on the quick.

If you need the help of a lawyer:

This nonprofit will connect you to lawyers in every state as well as a number of other helpful resources such as a list of toll-free numbers for insurance providers.

If you have flood insurance:

Hurricane Insurance Information Center

Lists the names and general phone numbers of all the flood-insurance providers.

National Flood Insurance Program

Hotline: 800-427-4661

Call this program if you can't remember the name of your provider.

If you want to know about tax relief:

Internal Revenue Service: Tax Relief in Disaster Situations

This IRS site contains an article and offers resources on how to claim losses related to the disaster in the most efficient way.

If you own a small business:

U.S. Small Business Administration: Disaster Recovery

Offers disaster-relief and assistance information for small-business owners.

Compiled by Jessi Hempel in New York

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