Thursday, September 7, 2017

Restoring Family Links after a Hurricane

UPDATED: September 22, 2017 with Video from Puerto Rico 

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and thus Hurricane Maria is classified as a domestic disaster response. For individuals that are trying to reconnect with their loved ones on Puerto Rico (or other US territory), please utilize the Red Cross Safe & Well program,

When conducting a search one needs 2 of 3 required pieces of info:

First Name & Last Name
Phone Number OR Home Address

Because addresses in Puerto Rico are written differently than United States, we recommend only doing searches via telephone. Note: try different phone numbers, such as cell, landline, work, etc. as the search is dependent on what the individual used to register. Additionally you may find last names to be hyphenated or not, try different versions when searching if no results found in one search parameter.

If the sought person is vulnerable (i.e. health concerns, mental health concerns, elderly, unaccompanied minor, mobility concerns, etc.) then an Emergency Welfare Inquiry MAY be initiated. There is additional information that the Red Cross would need to acquire. Should you discover that an Emergency Welfare Inquirer is needed, feel free to reach out to your local Red Cross Chapter for additional guidance. 

We encourage individuals to continue to try to communicate with their loved ones via traditional means (telephone, texting, social media, email, etc.) and to try during off-peak times, etc. Visit for more information on ways Red Cross can help reconnect you with your loved ones. 

Here is a current update from the islands and the Red Cross response in these first days.

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - Now that Hurricane Irma has impacted the islands in the Caribbean we know that people are concerned about loved ones that they may have lost contact with. Here is some information that might be helpful when searching for those people.
Keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines.

Contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.

Situation Overview

The islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten (Dutch territory) as well as the islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy (French territory) have been hit by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 leaving widespread damage. The communications infrastructure on the islands has been heavily damaged.

Restoring Family Links Response

The Dutch territories of Saba, St Eustatius, and St Maarten, fall within the jurisdiction of the Netherlands Red Cross. The Netherlands Red Cross has launched a Safe and Well website:

The Safe and Well website facilitates communication from inside the disaster-affected areas to family members outside the disaster areas. 

The Netherlands Red Cross is actively engaged in assisting individuals on the islands to register on the site as ‘Safe and Well’. Inquirers must provide the sought person’s name and the sought person’s address or phone number in order to search the list of those who have self-registered and view any "safe and well" messages that they may have left for their loved-ones. The website is available in English and Dutch. At the present time, the Netherlands Red Cross is not able to conduct active tracing on the ground, and therefore traditional tracing inquiries are NOT accepted at this time.

The French territories of St Martin and St Barthelemy fall within the jurisdiction of the French Red Cross. At the present time, Tracing inquiries are NOT accepted. For the time being, please advise inquirers concerned about relatives on St Martin or St Barthelemy to contact the French authorities at +331 82 71 03 37.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens (on foreign land, i.e. US Citizen in Cuba) should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 and

Inquiries concerning U.S. territory (i.e. USVI, Puerto Rico, continental USA, etc.) should be referred to American Red Cross Safe and Well website. Website: Individuals can search for loved ones based upon entering 2 of 3 components (Full Name AND Phone Number OR Address). In the event that the sought person may be part of vulnerable population, a health and welfare check can potentially be initiated.

Domestic Disaster Emergency Welfare Inquiry and Family Reunification Request can be invoked, especially for vulnerable populations, please see for forms to invoke a Welfare Inquiry. Vulnerable can include, but not limited to: health concerns; mental health concerns; mobility concerns; unaccompanied minors; and elderly. The form must be completed and submitted by Red Cross so contact you local Red Cross chapter.

Remember to keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines. Try to contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.

During a disaster the free Red Cross mobile app, Emergency, can help you stay in touch with family and loved ones. Download the app from or your preferred app vendor.

No comments:

Post a Comment