Posts Tagged ‘Red Cross’

Boston & Visitors: Declare Safe & Well with Red Cross

enteringbostonsignBoston cell phone service is reported cut off to prevent the possibility of remotely detonating any more devices in response to the Boston Marathon explosions earlier today (and less clearly defined—at this time—possible third explosive device at the city’s JFK Library).

One tool we should all know about, especially when disaster strikes, is the Red Cross Safe and Well Listing. When you are in an emergency situation (and I truly hope you never are), when you have access to get online, you can go to the Red Cross website and register yourself as safe and well, and add messages. Family and friends from afar who may not be able to reach you directly, can search by name, phone number, or pre-disaster address, and get your messages, letting them know you are alright. As someone who had family traveling overseas and unable to get word for days after the 9/11 attacks when we were living in NY, take it from me–give this gift to the people you love.

Here are the website’s directions (and as expected, this afternoon, the website is slow due to extensive traffic of people checking in. PLEASE…Be patient–the folks anxious for the information about you will be so grateful):

Register or Search the Safe and Well Listings


Disasters often make it difficult to stay in touch with loved ones. The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a central location for people in disaster areas in the United States to register their current status, and for their loved ones to access that information. It helps provide displaced families with relief and comfort during a stressful time.

The Safe and Well website is easy to use:

  • If you are currently being affected by a disaster somewhere in the U.S., click List Myself as Safe and Well, enter your pre-disaster address and phone number, and select any of the standard message options.
  • If you are concerned about a loved one in the U.S., click Search Registrants and enter the person’s name and pre-disaster phone number OR address. If they have registered, you will be able to view the messages they have posted.

Safe and Well is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is accessible in both English and Spanish.

Recovering from Irene, One Town at a Time

It was fascinating, the frenzy of preparedness/disaster porn on the news leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Irene, and then the vacuum of drama for New York City folk who had gotten into quite a lather. Good news, to be sure. The communities beyond NYC, in parts of Jersey, upstate New York, and of course the jaw-dropping devastation in Vermont, made us all quite certain it is always better to be safe than sorry. Of course communities all along the Eastern Seaboard felt the wrath of the storm. It will be quite some time before so very many families in so very many small towns, villages, and hamlets, get themselves even pointed toward normal once again.

A friend of mine (thanks DVV) grew up for part of her youth, and still has family in Prattsville, NY, a town decimated by the floods following Hurricane Irene. It is one of too, too many like it, with homes destroyed, businesses wiped out, roads and bridges washed away…and because of the facebook awareness, it has given me a more personal glimpse into this tragedy. Here is a website I’d like you to visit, Help  Windham Rebuild (Windham is just a few miles east of Prattsville). If not this community, find another to support. I’m learning the un-thought of details, like disposable one-time use cameras–the region has been declared a disaster area, but of course cameras and most possessions were lost, yet damage must be documented for insurance and FEMA relief. We never think of that need, in addition to clothing, food, water, toiletries, medical care, toys, lost and separated pets, and cleanup hours and dollars.

Find a way to support.

Red Cross Disaster Relief

Americares Hurricane Relief

Humane Society Hurricane Irene Disaster Page

Help Haiti

Haiti was struck yesterday, around 5:00PM local time, by a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Details will be streaming in for some time, but the presumption is that along with the loss of many, if not most structures in capital Port-au-Prince, casualties will likely number in the thousands.

Haiti is ill-equipped to deal with such a tragedy (not that any nation is well-equipped). Weather is cruel to the island nation, and flooding and hurricanes are a disproportionately common occurrence; deforestation allows rainwater to flood down along with mudslides; political turmoil plagues the cities and villages; a lack of potable drinking water and viable food sources makes life and physical health a challenge; poverty is the rule, not the exception, with many Haitians living on less than $2 per day. Any country would need help from individuals and governments the day, days, weeks, months, and probably years after such a cataclysm…and Haiti needs it perhaps more than most.

Musician Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yele Haiti, has long been a favorite charity, helping the people of Haiti with education and outreach programs, and they are aligned now with earthquake relief and aid.The Yele Haiti website is overwhelmed (a good sign–so many want to help), but persevere. Alternatively, your favorite international disaster relief organization will also be reaching out and mobilizing, so a donation to the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies or similar, a dedicated donation earmarked for Haitian relief, truly will make a difference. Many cities are also accepting aid donations and will mobilize civilian and military and government workers and relief products/supplies. More opportunities to give will undoubtedly arise as today goes on.

Don’t wait–be part of the solution.

Here is a link to MSNBC’s current (and updated) list of organizations actively involved in reaching out to Haiti, so you can find a place to have a profound effect.

Changers:Profile-Alexander Souri, Relief Riders International

souriI’ve decided to add a new element to the blog. I will be posting occasional interviews with people I’ve met who are “Agents of Change,” folks who have done or are doing astounding work making a difference in lives or sometimes providing the structure and opportunity for us to make a difference. I hope you’ll find them as inspiring as I do.

This first is with Alexander Souri, the founder of Relief Riders International and Relief Workers International. Full disclosure: I did a Relief Ride with Alexander in the desert of Rajasthan, India, where 14 of us traveled on horseback to deliver school and medical supplies, helped at free medical camps and cataract eye surgery camps, and delivered milking goats to poor families. In my field of travel writing, the description “life-changing” is bandied about loosely, but I could not be more sincere when I say this trip changed my life. (a stream of consciousness account of that trip can be found here: That experience plays a huge part in what I am doing right now…


Mission Statement: Relief Riders International (RRI) is a humanitarian-based, adventure travel company that organizes horseback journeys through breathtaking areas in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, India.

Over the last four years Relief Riders International has held seven successful Relief Rides. During this period we were able to design and develop far reaching medical and educational programs providing school supplies, goats, medical care and cataract surgeries to rural communities in Rajasthan.

To date, our medical programs have given us the opportunity to treat over 15,000 villagers, including 7,800 children.

Building on the success of these programs we are always researching new ways to provide effective medical care to rural areas. Relief Riders International is pleased to introduce our free Dental Surgery Program. Villagers will be able to receive free dental care and minor surgeries on our Relief Rides scheduled for the winter of 2010.

This past year was spent launching Relief Workers International (RWI) offering a different travel experience while incorporating the same humanitarian programs without the use of horses.


Firstly it all had to do with where I was at in my life. I’d reached a point where I had been lucky enough to travel the world and do all sorts of colorful and interesting jobs—but there was no alignment. I was an observer and could do this skill here and that skill there, but it didn’t add up. I realized there was much more to life than what I was living. Mostly I looked to provide an opportunity to help other people, to give back, to start taking care of the planet, the place I lived. I started the journey of unraveling a wonderful childhood—no negativity or bad experiences—but unraveling the conventions of …childhood…getting back to myself. It was the real reason of me starting these trips. It’s been a five-year journey and it’s still continuing and it’s wondrous.

If we go into finding out why this, why did I try to create this experience, it has also to do with my sense of freedom. I have an interest in being free, both in the mind and the body and also on the planet. Being able to jump out of the mainstream and say I’d really love to go to a beautiful place and see if anybody needs help, and if so, create a system to provide that. It’s part of what I am, the archetype, the ability to jump on a horse or a motorcycle or [pilot] a plane always gives me a sense of replenishment and nourishment.

Continue reading