During times of disaster, United Way 2-1-1 Information and Referral is the centralized source of emergency information and is the one access point people need to find the real-time information that is critical. In an emergency, 2-1-1 Information and Referral operates under the direction of the state’s emergency management. Information such as road closures, pharmacies, and volunteer efforts are all available 24 hours a day.
United Way 2-1-1 Information and Referral has been an integral part in our nation’s recent disasters. It played an important role in assisting people looking for loved ones after the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001. In addition to meeting needs, 2-1-1 assisted with organizing volunteer efforts after the 2004 hurricanes in Florida. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA recognized United Way 2-1-1 Information and Referral for their assistance with helping victims find adequate shelter.
Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the United Way 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service Centers of the east coast are working to enhance post-disaster efforts. Among other things, they are connecting people with shelters, information about closures, local pharmacies, road closures and where to find various resources. As efforts begin to transfer from response to recovery efforts, United Way 2-1-1 Information and Referral will assist in connecting people with FEMA, Small Business Associations and NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster).
Locally, the United Way Regional 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service Center, based in South Bend, services a five county area, including Fulton, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties. 2-1-1 maintains a database of over 2,000 local agencies with approximately 8,000 programs. Information and Referral Specialists assist individuals every day who are looking for information and resources. But at any time, United Way Regional 2-1-1 Information and Referral is poised to be the hub of information and assistance during any disaster.
If you need information or assistance, dial 2-1-1 at any time to speak with a trained and certified Information and Referral Specialist to find any community information needed, including food pantry hours and locations, after-school programs, emergency shelter locations, financial assistance and much more. Or, visit www.myuw211.org to search the database or commence an online live chat with an Information and Referral Specialist.