Karen's family lives in NYC and they're all safe. We had trouble reaching them by phone, but we were able to communicate via AIM. I guess that's something else useful that AOL has given me. According to this article at internetnews.com, we weren't the only ones to use instant messaging
Somebody wrote into slashdot saying that "The [internet] backbone is, according to [network watchers], at about 80% utilization -- they've never seen it above 40% before."