"What can we do to help?"
This was a question many asked as we sat soberly in front of our televisions, helplessly watching the mayhem in the wake of Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 28 — and less than 30 days later with Hurricane Rita.
AAPG took steps in several areas:
- Both AAPG and the AAPG Foundation made donations to a charitable fund on the members' behalf.
- Additionally, the OTC, of which AAPG is a sponsoring society and board member, donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to assist in relief efforts in the Gulf Coast communities affected by Hurricane Katrina. The OTC is operated by 14 professional societies and trade associations representing all aspects of the offshore industry and sponsors an annual technology conference in Houston.
Fees also were waived for storm-affected students requesting assistance to attend the AAPG/SEG Student Expo held in early October.
We also turned to the Internet. It seems ironic, doesn't it? There's no power to so many. Offices are shutdown and computer access is pretty much nonexistent and we turned to the World Wide Web.
Yet, why not be ready? Power eventually will be restored and people will have relocated either temporarily or permanently to different homes and offices.
AAPG established an Emergency Relief Message Board on the AAPG Web site to assist in locating alternative temporary housing, office space and to assist in communicating those arrangements. Members are encouraged to use the message board to coordinate efforts to assist others in rebuilding their libraries, their businesses, their lives.
It also has been used to give reports on what's happening with their lives — be it professional or personal — and in attempts to locate someone.
It was a bit of a thrill that within four hours of having been made available — and before the board was publicized — someone logged in to offer office space they could share in the Houston area.
Then within a few more days about 15 or so had responded on their whereabouts and how people could contact them. The site remains available for those members of AAPG who have relocated and need to publicize their current location.
For instance, former AAPG Treasurer Edward B. Picou checked in on the site two weeks after Katrina hit to let the membership know he had evacuated to a hotel in Birmingham, Ala., to wait out the storm — and heard his home near the front of Lake Ponchetrain had escaped the flood waters but had some roof damage. He said it would be perhaps a month before he could return to his home.
Other members also checked in to give the contact information of their temporary homes and offices — and with other news.
The site remains available for those affected by the other natural disasters that have rattled the world, including the Pakistan earthquake and Guatemala mudslides.
Also, a list of reputable relief organizations as listed by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency remains available on the AAPG Web site.
The message board has been made available to the public so that those who are not AAPG members but may have information to share or assistance to provide may do so as well.