One of our goals here at Recovers is to help communities be more prepared for disasters by learning from our data and sharing that knowledge with the rest of the world. This past year, our software was used to help the recovery efforts in Moore, OK, after the EF-5 tornado ripped through the town on May 20, 2013.
Recovers has been used in several disasters over the past year including Hurricane Sandy , the Oklahoma tornadoes, the Alberta Floods, and the Idaho Wildfires. Part of our mission is to change the way disasters happen by learning from our experiences. A key part in this process is the collection and analysis of non-personally identifiable information, or as we will refer to it, “non-PII” data.
The outpouring of goodwill to Oklahoma in the wake of the May tornadoes has been incredible.
When the tornadoes struck Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013, we launched and donated the site Moore.Recovers.org to the local community to help them organize their recovery effort. Since its launch, the site has has been used by about 15 different local Oklahoma organizations, including Americorps, several local churches, and the Moore City Hall. It has proven invaluable to have all of these organizations and the local residents working together within the same system to meet the needs of the community.
Creating new standards in disaster recovery
We would like to thank every one of you for your support throughout 2012. In the past year, the team at Recovers launched software for 12 communities, saw nearly 30,000 accounts created, and helped local organizers meet hundreds of reported needs. We’d like to take a moment to look back at the lessons we have learned this year.
A strong start
Our small team began working with disaster stricken communities across the United States nearly one year ago to design a better community toolkit. We believe that every community member has the right to help put their city back together, so we built tools for volunteer, donation and case management that anyone could safely use. The first version of this software was finished in April of 2012 and launched the same day in North Texas to aid a tornado recovery effort. Our site was able to gather $30,000 in donations in the first four days and captured the goodwill of more than 500 donors and volunteers.
More recently, after Hurricane Sandy our software was used in four neighborhoods of New York City to post important information and collect donations, volunteers, and needs. The software captured the goodwill of over 20,000 volunteers and donors, and helped organizers meet hundreds of needs. This database of resources can now be used in the long term recovery effort to rebuild the communities and meet the needs of those affected.
“We wouldn’t have been nearly as effective in helping people if it hadn’t been for the Recovers software.”
– Cooper Taylor from Forney, Texas
What we’ve learned
While our primary focus when launching software post-disaster is assisting the community, these “stress tests” in disaster zones teach us valuable lessons about recovery. We’re sharing a few of the most interesting points we’ve discovered this year.
1. The Remote Volunteer Organizer
Since the Recovers databases can be accessed anywhere via Internet, people from around the US can participate in local recovery efforts. Volunteers from groups like NPower and Occupy Sandy have directly helped by searching the databases and matching need with aid in their communities.
As things return to normal, and local volunteers return to work, we are seeing the power of these remote organizers. They can easily stay involved for longer, by spending just an hour or two at home in the evenings matching requests for help with available resources. Months after Hurricane Sandy, volunteers continue to meet reported needs.
2. Analyzing Disaster Data
Data from the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort revealed interesting information. First, 70% of all volunteers and donors that registered using our software occurred in the first 5 to 6 days after the Hurricane struck the city. The Recovers system was able to capture all of this initial interest which can now be used in the remainder of the recovery effort. If no system was in place, all of this goodwill would have been lost.
Second, knowing the most requested needs, donated items, and volunteered skills gives a good idea of what you can leverage in your recovery effort, and what gaps need to be filled. During Hurricane Sandy, it is now evident that clothing is the most readily available donation item, and that volunteers can be leveraged for debris removal purposes.
Stay tuned for more articles on this blog as we continue to analyze our data from Hurricane Sandy and other recovery efforts!
- The Team at Recovers.org