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Tech community joins Katrina relief effort

Companies rally around victims of Hurricane Katrina, offering technical assistance, aiding the homeless and gathering relief donations.

The tech community is rallying around victims of Hurricane Katrina, offering technical assistance, aiding the homeless and gathering relief donations.

Hurricane Katrina came ashore along the Gulf Coast early Monday, wreaking havoc on Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with heavy rains and 145-mph winds. Thousands are feared dead in the wake of what could be the deadliest natural disaster in the United States in nearly a century.

Wireless giant Sprint Nextel announced Tuesday that it would dispatch nearly two dozen specialty vehicles to coordinate the recovery effort and restore communications services. The deployment will include two large RVs plus several other support vehicles, including five satellite cells on light trucks, to aid with restoration of government and emergency services. The company's emergency response team will come equipped with 3,000 Nextel Walkie Talkie handsets for emergency services customers and organizations, the company said.

Qwest Communications said it will send 2,000 long-distance calling cards so those affected could call loved ones. The company also said it has given the Red Cross $230,000 to help train responders.

Cable giant Comcast said it will donate $10 million worth of advertising time for public service announcements related to hurricane relief.

Chipmaker Intel's philanthropic arm, the Intel Foundation, said Thursday it will donate $1 million to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts. The foundation will also match dollar-for-dollar employee contributions in support of the relief effort during September.

Meanwhile, Americans have donated millions to the relief effort. The American Red Cross said it has raised $21 million, with nearly $15 million of that coming from individual donations collected through its Web site.

Some Web giants are pitching in with the fundraising as well. In the same way it collected donations for victims of last year's Asian tsunami, is letting people donate to the American Red Cross via its 1-click payment system. Web auctioneer eBay is working with, a nonprofit organization that allows eBay users to buy and sell items, with the proceeds going to disaster relief.

Meanwhile, free community Web site Craigslist is providing resources to victims of the hurricanes. The site is hosting pages listing volunteer opportunities and offers, pleas for information on loved ones, and free temporary housing for those left homeless by the hurricane. Hundreds of people from around the country are offering varying accommodations on the New Orleans Craigslist site.