Hurricane Katrina Emergency Identification

Situation: In Austin there are approximately 4,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees living at our convention center in Downtown.

Problem: Most evacuees have lost all forms of identification. Certain logistics are preventing the DMV from responding to this situation.

Solution: Create Katrina Emergency Cards for evacuees.

One of my business friends and I decided to donate our time in a unique way: Create a full-fledged operation in two days to assist the city of Austin in providing identification cards for the evacuees from New Orleans.

We have already had discussions with the head Austin city planner in charge of the evacuees, and he loved the idea and wants us to start soon as possible. Robert will further explain in this video:

Hurricane Katrina Video

Robert owned several ID companies in the past, therefore he has experience in the identification industry. He still has much of his equipment, including $20,000 ID card printers and a $35,000 holographic film generator. He also has hookups like you wouldn’t believe.

One business idea I had come to Robert with just possibly got a big jumpstart. ExpressID’s might now become a reality faster than I expected in order to help the Katrina evacuees staying in Austin. However, instead of being for profit, Express ID’s will be for charity.

To get a better idea of the situation, we decided to volunteer inside the Austin Convention Center which is hosting the evacuees. Video:

This was one snapshot of the inside:

Robert has already spoke to the to the decision makers to make this a reality, so Saturday night we started taking care of some smaller things things like business cards:

I usually party on Saturday, but instead Robert and I will work through the night to get the smaller details out of the way: Business cards printed, signs made, ID card design finished, contacting people and configuring the ID equipment.

We had a friend of Roberts whip up a few sample cards, this was the first he gave back. This most likely will not be the selected card:

If this is going to happen, it will be a combined effort of many people donating their time, talent, money and resources. We are aiming to roll out 2,000 ID cards by Monday.

In a matter of 24 hours, we have:

  • Come up with an idea
  • Talked to the right people – Several major banks have agreed to endorse the card for check-cashing and we already have approval from the guy running evacuee operation.
  • Created a Project Image - Things run a lot smoother when you’re organized.
  • Got Website Up – The ExpressID’s website is by no means perfect, but it’s up.
  • Got donors – Robert obtained donors willing to fund the project. If we end up replicating this process in Houston and other places, it will cost a significant amount.

I decided to document this whole process. Even though this is a volunteer effort, in many ways it is much like starting up a company. We’ve been taking video with my Casio Exilim EX-S500 at every step:

We’ve recieved the permission from the proper authorities and we have the resrouces to carry this project out quickly. It will be interesting to see how it goes!