My wife and I grew up in Louisiana. Our parents and a lot of our friends and family members still live there. We are thankful that our immediate families are OK, but we have friends and family that have lost everything (cars, houses, apartments, paperwork, everything) and have no idea how many weeks or months they'll be without a place to live or work. There are others, such as my wife's aunt and uncle, who lived in New Orleans and we have no idea where or how they are right now.
There are over a million people in this situation in Louisiana alone. To give you an idea what they face, check out this story on MSN.
If you are able to help, I ask that you consider donations to a fund that is helping with the recovery and the interim support of the many men, women, and children affected by this disaster. A couple of options are:
There are other funds, as well, and many of them provide the ability to direct your donations to specific disasters. I also suggest you check any charity you are considering using the Red Cross's www.charitynavigator.org, and donate to 4-Star charities wherever possible. The charities I mentioned above are both 4-Star rated.
Another factor to consider - New Orleans is one of the world's largest ports, near one of the largest oil refineries. The faster we can help that area recover, the less it will impact all of us economically. New Orleans is one of the largest waypoints for exporting and transporting many of our crops, and those will have no place to go. This will affect the world's economy in ways we can't yet predict.
Thanks for considering adding your assistance to this effort.