As Hurricane Gustav makes its move over land, there are numerous ways for you to track the storm and connect with loved ones over the Internet.
- Cameras: Many of the live resources and cameras are starting to disappear. The Weather Channel has a decent array of functioning cameras still running. You can also find some streaming images courtesy of the folks at Gannett Louisiana/Gannett News. Their six feeds are slow-moving at the moment and are hit and miss, but I’m seeing a camera up on at least one this minute. Louisiana’s Department of Transportation is currently posting regular snapshots from its traffic cams as well.
- Maps: The meteorologists themselves get their information from this site, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. The Center posts updates every three hours, at 8:00, 11:00, 2:00, and 5:00 ET (repeating in an a.m.-p.m. cycle). The most significant of those updates are typically the 11:00 and 5:00 ones. You can see their latest forecasts, three- and five-day tracks, and live satellite images of Gustav and the other storms at sea — including Hanna, currently looking to make landfall somewhere near the Georgia-South Carolina border over the weekend. This is the same information the people on TV use to make their maps and deliver their forecasts.
- Up-to-the-minute storm info: Louisiana has set up an emergency Web site with the latest headlines and information.
- Finding people: If you know anyone in the area, the Red Cross’s Safe and Well program may be able to give you an update on their location or status. It lets families register their information by home address and phone number once they’re okay so friends and relatives can find them. There is also a similar phone-based service set up by the Red Cross. You can dial 443-992-4890 to search for messages from loved ones.
- Finding people: FEMA also has a National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System, accessible here. The same information is also available via voice at 1-866-288-2484.
- Finding people: If you need to track down someone in a shelter, the Red Cross’s shelter hotline is 1-800-733-2767. Alabama has a specific shelter information line at 1-800-206-0816 and Mississippi’s is 1-866-472-8265.
- Reaching people: Major mobile providers suggest using text messages to try to contact people in the area rather than calling their cell phones, as that places less burden on the sure to be already overloaded networks. Try using a free Web-based service, such as the internationally accessible GizmoSMS.
- Reaching people: AT&T is offering some of its pre-paid GoPhone devices to evacuees. They are available in Houston and San Antonio stores now and more are being shipped in tonight for families seeking shelter in that area.
- Evacuation 2.0: Want to read how the blogosphere and specifically Twitter have changed the face of this storm evacuation? Check out this article from the Chicago Tribune.
UPDATE*** For the latest storm stream, see Hurricane Ike Live.