Crisis Cleanup Introduction

If you've ever played soccer, imagine trying to score a goal as a team with boxes over your heads.

Unfortunately, that's how disaster recovery works now. After a disaster, hundreds of organizations converge on the field to clean up. Although each organization is working toward the same goal, they don't communicate, coordinate, or work together easily. They can't see what their teammates are doing, even though they might be literally working side by side. Sometimes they duplicate efforts, and nobody can see the entire field at once.

That's why we created CrisisCleanup.org. Crisis Cleanup takes the box off your head, allowing relief organizations to see the entire game, and work together with teammates. Crisis Cleanup is a new way of coordinating disaster recovery efforts, using the collaborative power of the internet to break down barriers among recovery organizations.

And we need you to be part of the game. By donating to Crisis Cleanup, you will be helping literally thousands of families in cities across the country and across the world by facilitating unprecedented coordination among organizations like AmeriCorps, the United Way, Catholic Charities, the United Methodists, Islamic Relief, Mormon Helping Hands, NECHAMA, 2-1-1 operators, and many others.

Here's how it's worked in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Mississippi, and Georgia: After hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and earthquakes, Volunteers from churches, synagogues, hotlines like 2-1-1, and other community organizations organize to help those in need.

Even after phone lines and the internet come back online, coordinating after a disaster is challenging. Volunteers arrive on the scene, but need to know who needs help. Devastated neighborhoods are often overwhelmed by the damage, even as thousands of volunteers sit idle waiting for direction. The lists of people who need help often don't end up in the hands of the waiting volunteers.

CrisisCleanup.org connects relief organizations with the people who need help by taking a "craigslist" approach to disaster recovery. Organizations that are aware of a need enter the information in the system. Then organizations with capacity help as soon as they can. When everyone uses the system, tens of thousands of volunteers from hundreds of organizations go straight to work, and each organization knows where the others are working. Crisis Cleanup makes coordination and communication seamless, while giving voluntary organizations maximum flexibility to respond as they see fit.

Individuals needing assistance will often call as many organizations as possible, in the hope that they'll receive help faster. While we can't blame them, this causes inefficiency and duplication of efforts when two or more organizations show up at the same house. But with Crisis Cleanup, if a person calls in twice, even to different organizations, the system will find the existing record and avoid duplicating efforts.

After a disaster, volunteers from dozens of organizations canvass neighborhoods to assess needs, but don't coordinate with one another. Without coordination, some streets are canvassed dozens of times, while other streets are ignored. But now with Crisis Cleanup, volunteers will be able to see which streets have been canvassed in real-time, allowing them to focus on areas that have not been assessed.

Any local or national recovery organization can use Crisis Cleanup. 2-1-1 can perform an assessment over the phone, and enter the information into the system. Relief organization volunteers can use a smart phone or tablet to report people who need help. Citizens will be able to report damage using nothing but their home telephone, sharing vital information with community leaders and relief agencies across the region, even as the disaster is unfolding.

Crisis Cleanup is open source. Relief organizations may join CrisisCleanup for free if they meet three requirements: First, your organization must have a physical presence in the area. Second, it must do this type of work, including canvassing, assessments, muckouts, or rebuilding. Third It must be a nonprofit member of VOAD, a government agency, or come recommended by a VOAD or government agency.

CrisisCleanup.org has already helped more than 160 organizations send more than 40,000 volunteers to more than 10,000 families in 8 states during 8 disasters, in 3 countries.

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