Category Archives: Reunification
When a disaster occurs with large numbers of fatalities or injuries, individuals who are unaccounted for, damage to communication infrastructure and evacuations etc., a local jurisdiction can quickly become overwhelmed with requests from concerned loved ones. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Reunification services was primarily a reactive activity, responding to high volumes of inquiries that often overwhelmed Red Cross phone lines and emergency services, spreading efforts thin. Since Katrina, the Safe and Well website has helped alleviate this burden by allowing reunification workers to concentrate resources on those who are most vulnerable during a disaster.
As a co-lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Mass Care component of the Emergency Support Function 6 (ESF6) in the National Response Framework, Red Cross has a commitment to provide Reunification services. Additionally, the Red Cross Reunification services are incorporated into a variety of state and county emergency response plans, continuity of operations plans, and family communications plans that serve to ease the burden on emergency services during a disaster.
The Reunification Program principles are to improve the quality of service provided to clients who want to notify others that they are safe, seek others who are unaccounted for, reestablish contact when separated from family and deliver reunification services consistently across the country.
The following principles define the Reunification Program:
Emergency welfare inquiries and family reunification requests receive highest priority;
Follow-up always occurs with the emergency welfare inquiries and family reunification requests;
Unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children are kept safe and provided with swift transfer or reunification through working with relevant partners;
Client information is protected;
Accurate information is provided;
Services are provided fairly and consistently across the organization.