For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
WASHINGTON – As the United States responds to Hurricane Maria’s damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is connecting community partners with disaster survivors and their loved ones, to reunite families separated as a result of the storm.
Working in close collaboration with the American Red Cross, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and other partners, FEMA helps to facilitate the reunification of children who are separated from their parents or legal guardians as a result of disaster.
Following events like Hurricane Maria, we understand that communications networks are not always operational. As communications are restored, there are numerous options for survivors, friends, and family members to search for loved ones.
Survivors with internet access are encouraged to connect with friends and loved ones via social media platforms. Additional resources below are suggested for those both outside and inside the impacted areas.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to search for loved ones, or for individuals to indicate that they are safe. The site is always available, open to the public, and available in English and Spanish. There are a number of ways to use this service:
- Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website [Link no longer valid, https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/Learn-More-about-Red-Cross-Safe-and-Well-App-Feature-and-Website.html].
- Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. Messages exist in both Spanish and English.
- To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative who has a serious, pre-existing health or mental health condition, please contact 1-800 Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).
The American Red Cross Emergency App features an “I’m Safe” button that allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm’s way. The app can be downloaded for free in app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by texting ‘GETEMERGENCY’ to 90999.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Anyone who finds a child who may be separated from parents or caregivers, please contact the local police and enter basic information and/or a photo into the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Unaccompanied Minors Registry. If you find an unaccompanied child, please indicate whether the child has a disability or has access and functional needs in the appropriate field in the Unaccompanied Minors Registry. If you do not have access to the internet, please call 1-866-908-9570.
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