- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — When Katrina Blankenship started getting phone calls about the projected path of Hurricane Katrina, she wasn’t quite sure why.

But it was her Web site, Katrina.com, that got people’s attention.

So Mrs. Blankenship converted her personal Web design and computer consulting site into a one-stop shop for all things related to helping out the hurricane-ravaged South.

“I was really shocked. I had no idea it would turn into this,” said Mrs. Blankenship, who lives in Powhatan, 30 miles southwest of Richmond. “The e-mails are pouring in. I had about 1,500 come through today.”

Since Sunday, the Web site has received about 350,000 hits from places all over the world. And Mrs. Blankenship, who is working on a dial-up Internet connection, has expanded her bandwidth to accommodate all the traffic.

Mrs. Blankenship, 37, has compiled links to other sites that provide shelter information and victim assistance and developed a forum for people to offer help and to search for missing people.

The forum is filled with hundreds of postings — some from people looking for relatives, others from people offering shelter and supplies, and even a man from Kabul, Afghanistan, offering to translate documents and information into Middle Eastern languages.

The site even has garnered the attention of people wanting to buy it. She said one man offered $500,000 for the domain.

She declined. “It’s not for sale, it’s not a monetary-type thing.”

Mrs. Blankenship said she will keep the Web site focused on the aftermath of the hurricane for as long as it’s needed before going back to its original purpose.

For Mrs. Blankenship, converting the site to help with hurricane-related relief was second to actually getting in the car and driving south.

“I would give anything in the world if my husband and I can go down there and help,” she said. “I feel guilty laying down in my bed while people are sitting on rooftops trying to stay alive.”

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