Are You Safe?

Photo Courtesy of Thunderchild7

Photo Courtesy of Thunderchild7

When a hurricane hits or a terrorist attacks, how can you find out if your loved ones living in the area are safe?

Cell service could be cut off, as happened in the terrorist event at the Boston Marathon. What options are available?

Here are a couple to consider:

Google Person FinderGoogle Person Finder

This tool is designed to reconnect family and friends in the aftermath of a disaster or humanitarian emergency. It allows individuals to search for the status of specific persons and receive updates on them. This application can be embedded in personal webpages for ease of use and access.

Google’s Crisis Response division developed this tool after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Google Person Finder can mine data from other registries in a common format. After Katrina in 2005, many different websites provided a scattering of missing persons registries, a consolidation problem…now solved. Once the crisis is over, Google deletes the repository, as it has in regard to the Boston Marathon event.

American Red CrossThe American Red Cross: Safe and Well

This web application allows you to register yourself as “Safe and Well”, to ease your loved ones minds, as well as search for those who are missing.

Hope you never have the need to use these, but doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Have you ever been in a near-panic, unable to reach a loved one during a time of epic crisis? How did you finally reach him or her?

Walking For Water

Loved doing Water Missions International‘s WALK FOR WATER this past Saturday! Great cause. Scenic 3.5 mile walk in downtown Charleston on a gorgeous spring morning. An excellent combination. I actually got a little sunburn. I’m so happy it is springtime.

This annual walk is meant to symbolize the trek that women and children have to make each day to collect water in developing countries. Everyone grabs a bucket and halfway thru has it filled to simulate this daily trek. Now I see why women carry jugs on their heads. It’s practical. Water is heavy!

Donations support Water Missions International, which is an engineering, Christian non-profit, to provide sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions to countries all over the world. There were 2,000 participants in the walk this year and volunteers from 11 states. They raised over $185,000. Based right here in Charleston, they have worked in disaster relief and development situations in over 40 countries.




Along the walk route, volunteers held up signs that gave random facts about the world water situation–including things you don’t really think about…such as going down to the river and having to watch out for snakes and crocodiles. Or on your way back with your full bucket, tripping over a rock and spilling it. So, back you go. It is easy to take for granted, the clean water that comes out of our taps every day.

Here are some photos of a Water Missions’ filtration system and the difference it makes.






In 2005, the United Nations reported lack of safe water and sanitation to be the greatest cause of illness, and often the major cause of death following a natural disaster. And water-related diseases are believed to cause 90% of the sicknesses in developing countries.

Nearly a billion people in this world don’t have access to safe water. Next time you’re in a stadium for a game or a concert try to grasp how many that really is. Look around. It’s hard to fathom even a number much smaller. A couple years ago, my husband got tickets for us to see U2 in London for our tenth anniversary. It was at Wembley stadium, which has like 90,000 seats. I doubt that I’ve ever been able to see that many people all at once. But that’s a drop in the bucket.

Water Missions has a little quiz on their website about water. It’s 30 seconds. Take it. See how in-the-know you are.

Bring your kids next year. Bring your dogs. And when you’re finished with a nice, healthy walk..there are good ‘ol barbecue sandwiches from Home Team, waiting. Just wouldn’t be Charleston without that.

What are some of the walks or runs that you have done for a good cause?

Donating to the Japanese Disaster: 5 Things to Consider

A woman cries while sitting on a road amid the destroyed city of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan March 13, 2011, after a massive earthquake and tsunami that are feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. Picture taken March 13, 2011. REUTERS/Asahi Shimbun

When everyone’s shouting ‘emergency’ and ‘donate here’, how do you choose?

  1. Mission: Does their stated mission fit with your views?
  2. Current Needs: Be pragmatic. Right now, the basics of the basics are needed: water, food, medical care, shelter and search and rescue teams. Now is not the time for teddy bears and sweet photo ops.
  3. Experience: Has the organization been around long? If it has just set up for this one emergency, it’s probably not as likely to know how to run operations in a disaster of this magnitude. Look to those who specialize in disaster response. They most likely have decent logistics chains in place and specialized people on call.
  4. Locations and Reach-back: Are they in-country already? Where do they currently have projects? Will they beef up operations or have to start from scratch there? I like to donate to non-profits that already have a presence in the country. Why? Because they typically already have a base of operations, staff who are knowledgeable about the area and culture, and an established network of people and businesses that may enable them to better handle supply and logistical needs.
  5. Definitive recipients: Manpower is often a scarce commodity in major disasters. Do not assume that supplies can just be sent and accepted without a very clear, designated recipient. “To the people of Japan” doesn’t count. Volunteers are overworked and exhausted and won’t often have the time or ability to go through stuff that arrives haphazardly.

Money is often requested at this stage of an emergency rather than goods for a multitude of reasons. Some disaster response organizations have stockpiles and pre-made kits of very specific supplies that they know from experience will be needed. They have channels set up to procure more of what they need. Plus, as we’ve all probably experienced, it’s easier to ship things of a uniform size. Also, humanitarian organizations can try to buy supplies locally (if available), which will help the Japanese economy, which is obviously taking a serious hit right now, in addition to all its other troubles.