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2-1-1 in Disasters/Emergencies

When disaster strikes, dial 211

2-1-1 is to Social Services What 9-1-1 is to Emergency Services

When disaster strikes, 2-1-1 will be there to connect you to information, relief and recovery resources. We'll help you access essential information before, during, and after a natural disaster or terrorist attack, to answer your questions and provide a central place for updated information as conditions change. And no more searching to find the number for countless hotlines that spring up during a crisis. One call to 2-1-1 will connect you with a friendly voice and put you on the path to the information you need.

Information available from 2-1-1 Before, During and After a Disaster:

  • Location of emergency shelters
  • Which freeways, roads and bridges are closed
  • Location and hours of disaster relief services
  • Where to find food and water
  • Where to find temporary housing
  • How to access other government resources
  • How to volunteer to help
  • How to make a donation
  • How to locate family and friends

Benefits of 2-1-1 Before, During and After a Disaster:

  • 2-1-1 simplifies access to emergency services by eliminating the need for people to struggle with hundreds of government and nonprofit telephone numbers.
  • During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Monroe, LA 2-1-1 received 4,000-6,000 calls/day; & Texas 2-1-1 received 18,000 calls/day.
  • During the 2004 hurricanes, Florida's 2-1-1 averaged 200 calls/hour; 5,000 calls/day.
  • In 2003, people in Toronto called 2-1-1 to get quick referrals and information about the SARS epidemic, relieving the Public Health Department of calls that could be referred elsewhere.
  • After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in Connecticut, which had 2-1-1, 95 percent of all calls for mental health counseling, volunteering, and other services went to 2-1-1. New York did not have 2-1-1 and 400 new information lines were created resulting in confusion and waste of resources.
  • States like Arizona have included 2-1-1 services as a goal in Homeland Security plans since 2-1-1 complements emergency lines by freeing emergency workers to handle threats to life/property.
  • 2-1-1 reduces 9-1-1 non-emergency call volume and unnecessary ambulance dispatches, allowing for faster response to life threatening emergencies, and also resulting in cost savings.

Building Capacity to Meet Regional Needs

A fire or earthquake is always a possibility in Alameda County or nearby areas. Now we have new threats, like terrorism, and new public health issues like the bird flu, West Nile, vaccine shortages, and SARS. These emergencies call for a central source of information where the public can turn to get or give help. 2-1-1 will be that place for our community.

2-1-1 is a vital piece of the community safety infrastructure. We are a member of CARD (Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters). In the event of a regional disaster, 2-1-1 will be mobilized as a central source for information on relief and recovery resources.

One Call For Help

We know that 2-1-1 works in a disaster. During the Katrina/Rita crisis, people in Mississippi had no central location to obtain vital information. By contrast, people in Louisiana and Texas called the 2-1-1 number for help.

In the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Connecticut's 2-1-1 system fielded calls from victims, their families, and worried members of the public seeking help for themselves and opportunities to help others. Callers who couldn't get through to the Red Cross found answers at 2-1-1, which sent messengers on foot to get the latest news from the overwhelmed relief agencies. In Atlanta, where thousands of airline passengers were stranded when air traffic was grounded, 2-1-1 became the place to call and offer a room to weary travelers.

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