Gustav Evacuees Wrestle With Communications

Marvels and frustrations of today's tech come home with those fleeing storm.

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We've had Hurricane Gustav evacuees at our house this weekend, so I've watched up close the marvel and mess of modern communications amid a disaster.

My brother is staying in touch with colleagues scattered by the storm. He's mostly using E-mail—cellphone service in the New Orleans area is spotty at best. Even E-mail was difficult for a time. He couldn't get to his Outlook in box from afar, so it filled and was useless for a while. Personal Web mail addresses helped in the meantime. He eventually reached his IT department and is back on Outlook.

My sister-in-law is trying to figure out when they can head back to their New Orleans suburb. The national news is pretty worthless, but the Internet is bringing her local radio broadcasts. And the New Orleans Times-Picayune published much of its paper online as PDFs ("...looking exactly as it would on your front doorstep").

Marvels, yes, but nobody is telling them yet when they can go home.