Yesterday afternoon I updated the Hurricane Katrina page on Technorati with new first-person reports and information resources about the hurricane and its aftermath.
The original featured content from Monday focused on the latest news about the hurricane and it’s immediate impact. There were links to weather sites such as NOAA and first-hand accounts from people who had been in the middle of the winds and rains that tore through southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Many people updated their blogs with the latest news, accounts, and general observations from their immediate geographic area. Commenters provided advice from tornado and hurricane affected areas such as Kansas and Florida to individuals blogging the storm to help them make it through the scary experience.
Four days later there was a much different focus. The city was flooded, people were stranded, martial law had been declared, and there was a feeling of distrust of almost anyone as stores and homes alike were looted and there were reports of rape and murder with no consequence.
It was difficult to choose what types of first-person accounts to highlight on Technorati’s sidebar. I read first-hand accounts of people returning to their homes with dead bodies on their front lawn and young girls raped and left to die under an overpass. I read about people loading a car with what they had and driving hundreds of miles away, selling some of their remaining possessions along the way to pay for gasoline. I decided to highlight people’s reflections on the incident, both positive and negative, because I felt these accounts of the disaster were identifiable to all individuals who could easily see themselves in a similar situation and undoubtedly have questioned how they would react and if they are properly prepared to take care of their loved ones in the face of disaster.
On Sunday night I estimated the average cost-per-click of the keyword terms Technorati planned to use on its Katrina page. The average cost-per-click for the terms hurricane, hurricanes, Katrina, New Orleans, and NOAA was $1.24 on Sunday night according to the Google AdWords traffic estimator. The same set of terms currently has an average cost-per-click of $1.91 today, a 54% increase in less than five days. Technorati decided to not place ads on the Katrina page, but it’s interesting to watch the change in numbers.
The story of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is still unfolding. I will continue to observe and reflect.