Red Cross headquarters coordinates Okla. response

Within hours of Monday’s storm, disaster relief crews began arriving in Moore, Okla. to offer food, shelter and comfort. But the immediate and long-term response takes a lot of coordination.

When you first began seeing photos of the devastation, Red Cross crews were already working, most of them at the disaster zone and at the national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“So this is the beginning of the Disaster Operation Center,” says Paul Carden, the Emergency Services director at the National Capital Region American Red Cross. “They communicate into here and we begin the process of sending support from this location.”

The Digital Operations Center gets a sense of where there is a need for service. By way of social media, it’s real-time, live monitoring of what is happening in the disaster area.

“We’ve had people monitoring and saying ‘you’re in the affected area, you’re in a house, get to a safe room, this is what you need to do,’” says Carden.

Through Twitter, workers can pinpoint what the needs are on the ground. Technology gives them a bigger scope of what is happening.

“We’re able to see it here. We’re able to identify it, categorize it and then send it to the folks on the ground,” says Carden.

One employee’s job is to build maps that will help ground crews navigate the area and know what resources are available. The work does not stop and continuously adapts to the needs of those affected.

“We’ve got a nationwide system and we’re able to move folks very quickly, very rapidly to wherever the need is at.”