Natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and wildfires are a constant threat to communities across the United States. Emergency managers and community resilience teams are always looking for new ways to support the public’s ability to prepare and respond to these disasters. One tool that has proven to be effective is HazAdapt, an app and web tool that helps the public navigate disaster prep, response, and recovery for many natural and human-made disasters.
After a recent flooding incident inundated the local 911 call centers in Broward County, FL with ten times the normal call volume, it's become even more apparent that there's a need for a tool like HazAdapt. However, 911 inundation is not a new problem. According to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), 911 centers across the country receive more than 240 million calls each year. And during times of disasters or emergencies, the call volume can increase significantly, which can lead to 911 inundation. For example, during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Houston 911 center received more than 75,000 calls in just one day, which overwhelmed the system and caused delays in response times.
The HazAdapt team has developed 30+ Hazard Resilience Guides that are made to be shared in emergency alerts. These guides cover a wide range of natural and human-cause disasters, including floods, hurricanes, and active shooters. When a HazAdapt Hazard Resilience Guide link is included in emergency alerts, the public is provided access to expert-made information and instruction that complies with official protocol.
In addition to providing expert-made guides, HazAdapt also allows for local information to be featured in their app and web tool. This means that when HazAdapt users enter a specific geographic area, they are automatically provided with local information and resources. This feature is especially valuable for emergency managers and community resilience teams, as it allows them to boost the accessibility of their local information and resources. For example, if a HazAdapt user enters a designated area like a campus, city, or state, they will automatically have access to local information in seven different languages. This can be a huge benefit to both residents and visitors to the area.
To help emergency managers and community resilience teams better understand how HazAdapt works, the HazAdapt team has created a one-minute video that explains the tool and its benefits.
As disasters worsen, 911 centers will continue to get inundated with calls, leaving many people without access to critical emergency information.
While 911 is working on solutions to address this issue, there is a need for immediate action. HazAdapt is a ready-to-go solution that emergency managers and public resilience agents can use to supplement their public information outreach efforts and address emergency information gaps.
In short, HazAdapt is a tool that emergency managers and public resilience agents should have in their toolbox and be sharing with the public. By leveraging HazAdapt's capabilities, communities can more eailiy access critical emergency information and become more resilient in the face of disasters.