The American Red Cross has been on the ground providing food, shelter, water and supplies to American Samoa ever since last week's devastating tsunami wreaked havoc across the Pacific Islands. Thousands of miles away, across the Pacific Ocean, Red Cross chapters are also lending a helping hand by reconnecting families affected by the disaster by registering them as Safe and Well.
The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter has registered 247 individuals to date. Max Kurrillo, one of the volunteers that helped with the effort, spent time working in the South Pacific, traveling to Samoa.
YouTube Video: American Samoa Tsunami Response
Lucila Ochoa, Case Manager at the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter, led the registration. Ochoa traveled to American Samoa to do a needs assessment in April 2008.
"Safe and Well needs to be a part of every family's communication plan. It's an excellent tool in instances where communication becomes scarce or is lost all together," states Ochao.
The Salt Lake City chapter and Charlottesville, VA chapter are on standby to provide assistance.
The Safe and Well Website is a way for loved ones to share information on their status. You can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Website at www.redcross.org. If you do not have internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS to register your loved ones. The information you post will let other loved ones know about the well-being of those on the island. Please note - Safe and Well works only on American Samoa. The service will not work on Samoa.
Additionally, the American Red Cross can provide tracing services for people in the United States who lost contact with loved ones in Samoa following the tsunami.
If concerned about a close family relative with citizenship in Samoa, contact your local Red Cross chapter to initiate an International Disaster Welfare Inquiry. A volunteer will collect basic information and share it confidentially with the Samoa Red Cross Society, the country's equivalent to the American Red Cross. To date, the Samoa Red Cross has assisted more than 3,500 people with tracing services both domestically and internationally, including a man from New Zealand who was miraculously reconnected with his wife and daughter soon after the storm.
As an alternative, the Red Cross has established an international tracing hotline for this disaster, which is available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (local time) at +685 23686.
If concerned about U.S. citizens living or traveling in Samoa and Tonga, please contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.