Their homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Karen Rogers and about 30 of her family members went on Tuesday to the American Red Cross facility in Atlanta to try to find temporary housing.
The Red Cross said it could only give them a map to a crisis center.
Two days later, Leon van Gelderen, an Atlanta attorney, showed up at the Red Cross and said he had an open rental property and could house 10 people.
He was told the Red Cross could not put him in touch with anybody.
Luckily for both the Rogers family and van Gelderen, online organizations have been stepping up to provide services that relief organizations are too overwhelmed to provide.
"When I put the listing on the Web site in the evening, I had five or six families respond by the morning," van Gelderen said while he was sending out e-mails to his friends challenging them to help. Van Gelderen had his entire staff mobilizing relief efforts, rather than focusing on business. "The private sector has to start doing just as much as the government."
Van Gelderen listed his available housing through Moveon.org, a liberal-leaning, nonprofit political organization.
MoveOn launched its hurricane housing site on Thursday afternoon, and within 25 hours received offers for 45,000 beds -- 11,500 within driving distance of New Orleans, according to MoveOn President Eli Pariser.
"Basically we were just racking our brains trying to figure out how we could help our members provide some help for victims," said Pariser. "We have a direct line to 3 million people and there might be a lot who might be able to open up their homes."
People like Rogers are overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness.
"You never think people are this wonderful; you only hear the bad things," Rogers said. "It feels like Christmas. I feel really blessed.
Rogers and about 30 of her family members gathered at their home in Slidell, La., on Sunday night and drove in a five-car caravan to Atlanta where they split up between family members and hotels. They figured they would remain for three days, as they had in hurricanes past, then return home.
But by Monday evening they realized there was no home to return to.
"During the last hurricane, Ivan, we took everything with us," Rogers said. "This time we didn't bring anything. We really messed up. But we have our lives. The family is together."
Using the Internet, Rogers, a school administrator at Xavier University, has been able to find temporary housing for her entire family. Van Gelderen is letting 10 members of the family stay rent-free for at least a month, and Rogers located two more homes through Craigslist.org, one for two months and another two-bedroom, two-bathroom house the family can use for seven months.
People across the country are opening their homes, using resources from Web sites to community churches to find victims of Katrina who need shelter.
Elizabeth Davis of Austin, Texas, has opened a rental property in Houston to a family of three.
"I personally get very insulated when people say just give money," Davis said. "I feel like it insulates you from actually being able to help. We can help as a community."
Davis will allow the family to stay in her Houston property for 30 days to four months.
Kim Stone, of Ann Arbor, Mich., said she's willing to let a family stay for a year, possibly longer.
"We mentally set aside a year, but I'm not sure," Stone said. "If someone is really with us a year and still needs more time and the chemistry is good, we'd probably let them stay."
Stone first offered her home through a local grassroots group, Harbor of Refuge, who referred her to MoveOn. A local ministry from western Michigan is planning to transport 45 displaced people to Michigan on Sunday.
"Both money and volunteering are needed," Stone said. "It's probably easier to give money if you've got it. It's less of a risk. But this reminded me a little bit of the Titanic. How can you not reach into the water and take someone out?"