The New Orleans Times-Picayune is owned by Newhouse, who also owns the Oregonian. Those Newhouse papers have websites which at times are not as good as they could be, but in Katrina, NOLA.COM really shined. Here's an Online Journalism Review article about that NOLA.COM website, and a very relevant quote from its editor:
This stresses the importance of the SMS capability of your cellphone. See a previous article for details you, and your family, should know about SMS.
Donley: It was weird because we couldn't figure out where these pleas were coming from. We'd get e-mails from Idaho, there's a guy at this address and he's in the upstairs bedroom of his place in New Orleans. And then we figured out that even in the poorest part of town, people have a cell phone. And it's a text-enabled cell phone. And they were sending out text messages to friends or family, and they were putting it in our forums or sending it in e-mails to us.
The cell service didn't work, but they could send text. They're saying now that the body counts won't be as bad as they thought, and I know at least some of that is that people figured out how to hack the system, to use this kludge to save people's lives.