Technology Companies Lend a Helping Hand in Katrina Relief Efforts

Published: 21 Sep 2005

By Krithi Rao, Research Analyst - Communications Applications Group

First Step is Estimating Cost

Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the United States, made its appearance in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 29th 2005. This hurricane is touted to be the most expensive natural disaster in the U.S., much worse than Hurricane Andrew and a humanitarian crisis along the likes of the Great Depression. Hurricane Andrew’s devastation in 1992 cost $35 billion, while the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake cost $15 to $20 billion. Although it is too early to predict the total burden of Katrina on the U.S. economy, initial estimates place it at $200 to $300 billion – an amount equivalent to what the U.S. government spent in four years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the factors that have had a significant impact on the disaster relief operations is the breakdown of communications infrastructure caused by the hurricane. The disaster area is riddled with line breaks, damaged base stations and power failure. BellSouth Corp., one of the leading telephony service providers in that area, estimated that 810,000 lines still remain impacted in the disaster site. The company estimates that it would cost somewhere between $400 and $600 million to repair the damage from Hurricane Katrina. The efforts would take four to six months to restore service in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

Donations - Monetary and In-Kind, are Pouring In

In the face of such a calamity, charities are receiving donations that are aimed at providing relief to the millions of people displaced and affected by the hurricane. The American Red Cross has collected approximately $509 million for this purpose. However, assistance has not been limited to monetary donations. Many corporations are donating their products, personnel, and services to aid the relief campaign. Among this list are technology companies such as Avaya, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, and Vonage.

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