American Red Cross And Microsoft Announce New Family Linking Website KatrinaSafe.Org

American Red Cross
Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Consolidated superlist makes it easier for those separated by Hurricane Katrina to reconnect.

Helping families, friends and colleagues reconnect after Hurricane Katrina remains a high priority at the American Red Cross. To make it easier for people to find one another, the Red Cross teamed with Microsoft and the San Diego Supercomputer Center to consolidate information from its Family Linking website and many other websites to KatrinaSafe.org.

People have been facing the challenge of having to go to multiple websites in an effort to locate their loved ones. KatrinaSafe.org includes all of the records from the previous Red Cross Family Linking website, www.familylinks.icrc.org , as well as those from other websites. By making KatrinaSafe.org available and searchable by other search engines like Yahoo and Google, we will help ease the burden on survivors.

The site features a superlist with the most current and accurate information available – though visitors are cautioned that, due to the relocation and movement of evacuees, information constantly changes and may not always be correct.

People affected by Hurricane Katrina who wish to let others know where they are, or people who are searching for evacuees, can register by visiting:

  • www.redcross.org and clicking on the Family Links Registry

  • www.katrinasafe.org

  • A toll-free hot-line, 1-877-LOVED-1S (1-877-568-3317), is also available for those without internet access, or who simply prefer to use the telephone. Call Center operators will help check the list or enter records.

"The goal of this collaboration is to make this process as simple as possible during this difficult time," says Steve Cooper, Chief Information Officer for the American Red Cross. "We are proactively bringing together data from every site we can so people do not have to search multiple sites."

Special new features of Katrina Safe include:

  • Automatic notification. Family members and friends can register for an automatic e-mail or call-back notification when loved ones are registered and matched in the database.

  • Automatic search function. An automatic search function eliminates duplications from multiple websites and matches names for automatic notification to those requesting this on Katrina Safe.

  • Toll-free hotline. The toll-free hotline (1-877-LOVED-1S) helps those who do not have internet access or would like to register.

  • Microsoft support. The site is hosted by Microsoft with technology capabilities that eliminate the need for people to duplicate their efforts if they have registered on another website.

Based on the Restoring Family Links expertise of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the American Red Cross and ICRC established a family linking website (www.familylinks.icrc.org) quickly after Hurricane Katrina struck to enable people to re-establish essential relationships. To date, more than 211,000 people have registered on the site with over 66,000 self-registrations reporting their locations. The information from the ICRC site has been combined with KatrinaSafe.org. People who have already registered on www.familylinks.icrc.org through the Family Links Registry at www.redcross.org or 1-877-LOVED-1S do not have to register again.

The Red Cross approached long-term corporate partner, Microsoft, for help in developing a technology solution that would provide the quickest, simplest way for families to reconnect—even as they relocate across the country. The San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California at San Diego loaned its data aggregation and analysis expertise to this effort. Together, technology specialists at the Red Cross, Microsoft and the San Diego Supercomputer Center created KatrinaSafe.org.

The Red Cross Family Links Website KatrinaSafe.org will have one of the largest numbers of evacuees' names, including people registered at Red Cross shelters. It will continue to grow as it accumulates data from other sites, states and agencies. To coordinate integrating database information, contact the Red Cross at ITDosc@usa.redcross.org.

Individuals dispersed as a result of Hurricane Rita can also use this Family Linking website.

American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

For more information, or to contact American Red Cross, see their website at: www.redcross.org

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