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Saturday, September 03, 2005
  blackhole- Help site for hurricane victims
When Katrina Blankenship started getting phone calls about the projected path of Hurricane Katrina, she wasn’t quite sure why.

But it was her website, www.katrina.com, that got people’s attention.

So Blankenship converted her personal web design and computer consulting site into a one-stop shop for all things related to helping out the hurricane-ravaged South.

“I was really shocked. I had no idea it would turn into this,” said Blankenship, who lives in Powhatan, 30 miles south-west of Richmond. “The e-mail messages are pouring in. I had about 1,500 come through today.”

Since Aug 28, the website has received about 350,00 hits from places all over the world. And Blankenship, who is working on dial-up Internet connection, has expanded her bandwidth to accommodate all the traffic.

Blankenship, 37, has compiled links to other sites that provide shelter information and victim assistance and developed a forum for people to offer help and to search for missing people. The forum is filled with hundreds of posts: some form people looking for relatives, other from people offering shelter, supplies and even a man from Kabul, Afghanistan, offering to translate documents and information into Middle Eastern languages.

The site even has garnered the attention of people wanting to buy it – one man offered US$500,000 for the domain.

She declined. “It is not for sale, it’s not a monetary-type thing.”

Blankenship said she will keep the website focused on the aftermath of the hurricane for as long as it’s needed before going back to its original purpose.

For Blankenship, converting the site to help with hurricane-related relief was second to actually getting into car and driving south.

“I would give anything in the world in my husband and I can go down there and help,” she said. “I feel guilty laying down in my bed while people are sitting on rooftops trying to stay alive.”

-help those who needs-
 


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