How the American Red Cross Prepares for Disasters

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There are three main lessons that we learn from Hurricane Katrina. First of all, we learn the unthinkable can happen. We look at worst case scenarios and figure out what we are going to do. We do drills for everything and a lot these draws are commissioned by the White House and we sit around the table or sit around the situation room and we simulate disasters and they feel real.

We simulated a nuclear accident before the earthquake in Japan, we simulated the hurricane that took out the East Coast before Hurricane Irene, and there is also terrorist drlls that we do as well. The second thing that we learned is that we need to pre-position supplies closer to the affected areas because it's really hard to get in when everyone in their own post is trying to get in.

So we changed our whole wear housing strategies, but I think the most important thing we learned is that, no one organisation can respond to something that massive. And so we now have partnership with almost all the faith based organisations, Southern Baptists, International Baptists Convention, Church of the Brethren, and it's the local people that speak the language, that know the community, that know the culture that we now invite into our shelters and volunteers, and we can drum up more volunteers, and we don't have to do everything ourselves.

We just had a ribbon cutting for our new digital operation center. This was because of a generous gift from Dell Inc. And in this center we can watch social media happen as it's happening on the ground. We can get information which is gold during a disaster. we actually can dispense help, people could be Tweeting, I'm terrified, a tornado is coming, we'll send them in 145 characters of what to do when you're dealing with the tornado we're connecting loved ones by watching these tweets.

We give digital hugs when it's over. I lost everything and we will Tweet back, we're here, call us, we will provide you comfort, mental health counselling, whatever you need. This is brand new and they were training a cadre of digital volunteers and so most of our volunteers are working in shelters.

These volunteers come to work in their PJs in a home morning noon and night.[MUSIC].