When Hurricane Katrina pummeled her fury into the Gulf of Mexico coastline, we stared in horror at our TV screens. Then floodwaters descended upon New Orleans, erasing the image of good life in the Big Easy. We watched as helpless refugees were airlifted from the tops of buildings by helicopter and forced to survive in cramped, powerless evacuation shelters.

 

That’s when blogger fingertips started tapping.

 

The virtual community of Christians who maintain active web logs, or “blogs” have built up a ready-made audience of followers. In the wake of Katrina’s devastation, thousands of bloggers discovered an instant way to activate their faith where it could best be used, in offering financial assistance to the victims.

 

Michael Hyatt, president of Thomas Nelson, immediately updated his blog to let readers know how the world’s largest publisher of Bibles in English would respond. “The images of refugees trying to flee New Orleans are gut-wrenching,” he told his readers. “I can’t remember witnessing anything in our country as disastrous as what I have seen in the last three days.”

 

He announced that Thomas Nelson would donate 100,000 Bibles to aid in relief after hearing an official in Baton Rouge request “food, water, and Bibles.” Franklin Graham’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is helping with distribution. In addition, the Nashville-based publisher encouraged employees to donate funds, which the company would match. Baker Publishing Group, based in Michigan, responded likewise, with company donations distributed through International Aid.

 

Mississippi resident Paul Chaney, president of Radiant Marketing Group, used his business blog to help spread awareness of how bloggers could unite and give generously. “I felt compelled to blog about Katrina and the disaster relief efforts,” Chaney says. These are my people. I was born and raised in Mississippi and lived for a number of years in New Orleans. I’ve traveled many times down streets now covered with water.”


Chaney received a master’s degree from a seminary now engulfed by the overflow from Lake Ponchartrain. “That’s why I’m so impassioned about seeing that both groups, those in Nawlins’ and those on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, get the help they so badly need. That’s why I’m attempting to use what little influence I have in the blogosphere to plead for your support in funding relief efforts,” he said to his wide audience of blog readers.


With family and friends in devastated areas with little means of communication, Chaney went a step further in reaching out through blogging. “A couple of days ago I mentioned that, with the advent of Katrina survivors coming from New Orleans into Tupelo, it would be a good idea for our local paper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, to start a blog as one way to tell their stories, and provide other helpful information. I emailed a reporter friend of mine with the suggestion, and they have taken me up on it and now set one up” Chaney says.