In the past days I've been doing some lifting in these efforts of a People Finder project. The problem is massive and won't go away quickly.
The solution is volunteer techies -- data managers who mold chunks into a searchable format -- and a WIKI with chats and email lists.
NPR : Evacuees Find No Easy Way Locate Family Members Evacuees Find No Easy Way Locate Family Members
by Joseph Shapiro
Morning Edition, September 6, 2005 -- From the airport in New Orleans, tens of thousands of medical patients are airlifted to shelters in hospitals in often distant cities. That effort was coordinated by the U.S. military and government agencies. But there was almost no coordination to keep good lists of who was sent where.
Tonight at 9 pm there is a conference call among tech, database and webmaster / advocates.
Should pets be included or not? Yes, if there are those that want to do the work.
Should voter databases be available for extra searching needs? Yes -- if we can get the records and not have the weight bog down the system.
Does the American Red Cross have a survivors database? Yes, sorta. Internation Red Cross has a world-wide database, but it is but a fraction of what's needed. And the Red Cross database has picked up content in the first week from this open-source effort.