Searching for family at the Astrodome
I’ve just returned from the Astrodome, exhausted but feeling good about the many Houstonians who are volunteering to help. Many volunteers are still needed at the Astrodome and Reliant Center.
Because of his medical background, my partner, Richard, helped with triage at the medical area. I spent the day at the tech center helping families find lost loved ones over the Internet. It is an absolutely heart wrenching situation. It is hard to keep
back tears as we search through databases for lost mothers, lost fathers, babies,…well you can imagine. The people who have lost everything are mourning but they come into the tech center with such composure and dignity. They have incredible inner strength and resolve.
The tech center was set up by a not-for-profit community tech center, and SBC and Yahoo volunteers quickly joined the effort.
My blog today will be about the proprietary obsession of our US media. Why can’t we get over “we have to compete and get traffic for our advertisers” mentality???
What I mean is that instead of collaborating with each other to help families find loved ones, CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo and others are separately setting up databases separate from the Red Cross and from each other. This does not make sense from the point of view of us volunteers who have to pore through many databases to find a missing mom or son or daughter. But it makes sense when MSNBC or CNN can advertise on their networks that through their efforts so and so was found.
We have to register survivors of the hurricane on many databases, not just the Red Cross. MSNBC does not link to the Red Cross database, nor does CNN, nor does yahoo, nor do the other. Consequently we have to spend precious hours while families wait in line. This does not make sense, except from the point of view of proprietary and exclusive websites that want to generate traffic. It makes me sick. This sense was shared by most of the volunteers at the tech center.
Many people cry at the computer screen when, in desperation, we are unable to find the names of their loved ones. From time to time there were those moments when we were able to locate a mother in a hospital, or a daughter or wife. There is a lot of desperation and sorrow in the Astrodome. I am so proud of and buoyed by the thousands of Houstonians who are out there giving of themselves to help.
This enormous suffering did not have to happen.