Linux, open source power call center for Katrina, Rita victims

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As Hurricane Rita bears down on the Gulf Coast, there is at least one fear that can be put aside. If families get separated, they can quickly locate each other from any phone by calling Contact Loved Ones, a free service powered by an open source Asterisk PBX system and MySQL database running on Debian Linux.

Moved by the stories of families separated by Hurricane Katrina, Web development experts Dan Schoeffler and Yaakov Menken set up Contact Loved Ones (CLO) in a matter of days. Information about CLO and how to use it is now available in Red Cross centers throughout the Gulf Coast states.

CLO lets people leave messages that friends and family members can access via a call center. They can access the call center through local numbers set up especially for residents of Gulf states or the toll-free number, 866-78-CONTACT (6682).

Once a caller reaches CLO, he enters his home phone number and leaves a message. Another family member who enters that same home phone number can then listen to that message and leave one of his own.

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