In Anthropology News November, Susanna M Hoffman (co-editor of Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster) rises the question how anthropologists could help people who are ravaged by the recent hurricanes:
Disasters and their effects on culture and society have been largely disregarded by anthropologists. (...) In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, another aspect of anthropology, also often ignored, rises to the forefront, or should rise. That is, what we can do to help people who are ravaged.
This is the area of our study usually called applied anthropology, but in such cases as Katrina and Rita, becomes, in fact, aid. We are the sort who participate directly with people in such a way that we might learn what survivors actually want and work to provide it. I not only suggest that we incorporate the effects of disaster into our studies, but I also implore that if anyone should converge after such a calamity, it should be us.