I want to quickly reinforce that while I was disappointed not to get more than one tenth of an inch of rain out of Ike here in Austin, I was not at all unhappy to escape the power of Ike's wind and rain as experienced by folks closer to the coast.
Check out these photos from friends who live in the Woodlands. They had telephone service sporadically, and just got power back yesterday despite reports it might be weeks before they should expect relief. I am optimistic their power will stay on, and they can get about the business of cleaning up after the storm.According to authorities, it is too soon for folks to head towards the damaged areas to try and personally help. Right now, they simply don't have the resources it would take to house or feed volunteers.If you want to help, and I hope you will, visit the Red Cross site and donate generously for now, and then fill out an application and get your background check completed so you will be ready to volunteer when you are needed.
Otherwise, area food banks are being strained way past their limits with folks needing extra provisions as they wait out being allowed to return to their homes. Next time you are shopping for food, pick up some extra non-perishables (peanut butter, canned meat in pop-top lids and granola bars are all especially helpful as there is no need for cooking), and drop them off at your local food pantry. You can find what else you can do to help out here.