The national standard for 2-1-1 service and community role is to provide accurate and up-to-date information about available services and let volunteers know about the places that need them. This service is all the more critical during a disaster such as what’s been experienced in the Southern Tier as a result of Tropical Storm Lee blowing through.
For nonprofit and public agency support, 2-1-1 is also a rich source of real-time information about needs (demand) and services (supply) for planning, response and evaluation.
This became more evident during the Southern Tier’s response to the storm, over the past few weeks. As the water levels rose in the Susquehanna watershed, 2-1-1 HELPLINE began receiving an unexpectedly high volume of calls from Broome & Tioga Counties, people seeking information about evacuation orders, road closures, shelter locations and other services. Over the course of those first few days we ramped up our service by establishing communications with the Broome/Tioga 2-1-1 First Call for Help, FEMA, United Way of the Southern Tier and others. We expanded our operating hours and collected valuable information about community needs, which would ultimately be used to support the regional request for disaster assistance. We also activated the 2-1-1 HELPLINE Give Help disaster system to make it easier for agencies to coordinate the outpouring of volunteer assistance.
Over the course of the disaster response and the beginning stages of recovery, we estimate that approximately 25% of Broome’s and Tioga’s calls overflowed to 2-1-1 HELPLINE and our after-hours service. Based on this experience, we will adjust our disaster response plans to be better prepared for the next one. Please contact Carol Wood, 2-1-1 HELPLINE Director, for more information about our programs and services including the newly designated Southern Tier Regional Volunteer Center and the Give Help clearinghouse & resources for agencies and businesses.