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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Restoring Family Links after a Hurricane


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: https://ikbenveilig.nl

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 http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/overseas-citizens-services.shtml.

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: www.safeandwell.org. 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 www.safeandwell.org 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 www.redcross.org/apps or your preferred app vendor.


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