For Some Evacuees, Internet Is The Only Connection To Home

"St. John Church destroyed by a tornado," Stormy Burgeron, an evacuee from Westwego, LA, said, staring at a computer screen at the First Christian Church shelter in Tyler.

The evacuees have found a website, where they can zoom in to their town, their street. It's called "Katrina Information Map."

"We live right up in here," Louise Hodges, an evacuee from Violet, LA, said.

If they click on the red symbols, they can find out what damage, if any, Katrina caused in a specific area or even building.

"Let's see what this is... Peters Rd. north of Lapalco dry," Burgeron said.

"There are no pictures of my area where I'm from," Steven Rousseau, Burgeron's boyfriend, said. "The only thing I can get is this map right here. This is the closest I've got to where I live."

"Text message Ernie, so Natalie knows where her mom is," a lady told another evacuee at a computer terminal.

Some are successful at reaching family and friends by e-mail.

"I did get into an online discussion page and left some messages for some friends of mine to know that we're ok," Dennis Wade, from Covington, LA, said.

Others, not so successful.

"I get really anxious hoping that somebody will reply back to what I've put on the computer," Burgeron said. "And it's like, you don't hear anything. It's just like lost hope. You just got to wait to go back to see it for yourself."

The folks say the information they're getting online is hit and miss: some outdated, some incomplete. Still, it's one of the few connections these evacuees have to the home they left behind.

Some evacuees are visiting their local enforcement websites and are finding that their neighborhoods are being looted. Others are visiting their banks online, trying to figure out their financial situation, so they can move forward.

Julie Tam, reporting.