Over the weekend the American news media was as focused on Hurricane Gustav as it was on the Republican National Convention. Naturally there were numerous comparisons between the response to Gustav and the non-response to Katrina almost exactly three years ago.
These reminders of the disaster that was Katrina have brought lots of people to (or back to) our Hurricane Digital Memory Bank project (HDMB). Since January 1, more than 56,000 unique visitors have hit the website, which works out to just over 600,000 page views. In the past four days alone, more than 4,000 unique visitors have stopped by to read one (or more) of the more than 1,300 personal stories, look at one (or more) of the almost 14,000 images, or to poke around in the archive of over 7,100 additional digital files.
My colleague Sheila Brennan and I (who comprise the remnant of the HDMB team here at CHNM) have been pleasantly surprised to see how traffic on the site has continued strong throughout 2008, especially because our grant ran out in the fall and since then we have done no additional promotion for the site. That traffic continues to be strong indicates to me the value of online archiving projects like HDMB…so long as they are archiving materials that the public will actually want to come back to.