I don't know if this is kosher with the mods or anything, but this is a request for donations for a specific family. I'm cross-posting this wherever I can to get the word out. If this is a problem, feel free to delete the post.
My sister, brother-in-law and their 2 daughters lost everything to the hurricane. Their home was in Metarie. It was under 4 feet of water for several days. While it still stands, the damage was so that it will be uninhabitable for at least a few months. All of their furniture is ruined. The floors are destroyed and have to be relaced. The drywall throughout the entire house has to be torn down and replaced. They are, as of yet, unsure if the water damage to the inner walls is extensive enough to force them to tear them down completely. They also have roof damage, and every single tree around the house was uprooted and has to be removed. All of the appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher, refridgerator, etc.) are unsalvageable and will have to be replaced. They aren't sure exactly how much the damage total will come to, but the number will have at least 4 zeros behind it. We just recently found out that their landlord did not have insurance on the house.
The only possessions they have left are what they brought with them to the hotel. A few outfits each, some books and movies, most of their photos, a laptop, their animals (along with several more they have rescued since the hurricane) and their cars. Everything else was either destroyed outright, is covered in mold/mildew, or is too water logged to save.
During the storms they took refuge in the hotel my sister runs in the French Quarter. There wasn't flooding or much damage caused by the hurricane there, but it was the central location that the looters and junkies flocked to. Along with only having enough food for a few days, having limited power for a few days until the generator died, and not being able to do simple things like bathe or flush the toilet for over a week, they also had to contend with the looters and general crazy people who flocked to the Quarter. They couldn't leave the hotel. They had to stay relatively quiet so as not to attract attention. They barely slept, especially my brother, who had to walk the building with a shotgun every night to try and keep them safe. My sister had to devise and teach her daughters an escape route should they hear gunshots in the building (I emphasis 'in' because you couldn't help but hear the shots from outside). They lived like that until earlier this week.
They are relatively safe now. They have armed guards watching the building, running water from the ground floor to the third floor (though it is apparantly unfit for human consumption, so they still have to rely on bottled water for drinking and any bathing), electricity, and they can leave the hotel as long as they're back by the 6pm city wide curfew. One of the phones in the building actually gets service (albeit unreliable and generally only at night) so I've been able to keep in contact with her.
The girls (one is 14, and the other is celebrating her 11th birthday this weekend) have lost everything. Everything. Somehow they're maintaining an optimistic outlook on things, and have been helping out as much as they can. You have no idea how proud of them I am.
Mostly, they need clothing (all kinds, for all weather), shoes, and money/gift certificates to aid in the house repair (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, etc.). They've stayed at the hotel to work towards getting it operational again (so my sister can still earn a paycheck). My brother has been working as much as he can doing repair, clean up, and security work for anyone in the area that will have him. They are doing everything they can to help themselves rebuild, they just can't do it alone.
I've set up a PayPal account for monetary donations. There's not a fixed amount, so give as much or as little as you can afford:If you would prefer to donate specific items, or would be more comfortable sending a check payable directly to them, just reply with your contact info or email me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll get you my address and whatever other info you'll need. They have requested their location not be disclosed, and out of respect for their wishes I will be sending everything to them directly. If that is in any way uncomfortable for you, I would suggest using the PayPal option as I would be able to generate a receipt for you through them.
Thank you for this community and the opportunity to get their story out.