Press Archive

SDSC Helps Red Cross Reconnect Families after Florida Tornados

Center Hosts Agency's 'Safe and Well' Website

Published 02/06/2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Comment:
Chaitan Baru
858-534-5035

Media Contacts:
Warren Froelich
858-822-3622
Paul Tooby
858-822-3654

The deadly tornados on Friday that cut a 40-mile swath of destruction across four counties in central Florida, destroying homes and killing residents, also left widespread outages in power and phone service.

During this stressful time, many families and friends remain cut off from communication with loved ones in affected areas of Florida . To help people reconnect, the American Red Cross response to this disaster includes a new form of high-tech help, the "Safe and Well " website.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is helping the Red Cross in this effort by hosting the Safe and Well website in the Center's state-of-the-art machine room, extending a collaboration forged during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

"We're seeing a definite surge in registrations at the Safe and Well website from the Florida tornados," said Chaitan Baru, a recognized expert in data technologies and director of Science R&D at SDSC, which is at UC San Diego. "It's a good feeling to see that our advanced data technologies, used every day for scientific research, can also aid the Red Cross in helping those affected by this emergency."

The free and secure Safe and Well website lets residents impacted by the tornados easily report their status as "safe and well," and those with loved ones in devastated Florida counties can quickly search the list for news of loved ones.

To post news of yourself or someone else, simply log on to www.redcross.org and click on the Safe and Well section. Select "List Myself as Safe and Well" and follow the instructions. To check on the well-being of a loved one, go to Safe and Well and click "Search."

The SDSC collaboration with the Red Cross began while Hurricane Katrina was still raging, when staff at the Center quickly began working with the Red Cross, Microsoft, and others to develop a "missing and found" superlist of those displaced by the hurricane, processing more than 250,000 names from multiple sources for public website dissemination during the emergency.

Based on this experience, the Red Cross developed the "Safe and Well" website with help from Microsoft and other partners, launching it last July for the 2006 hurricane season, which fortunately was relatively quiet. As with any other Red Cross service, Safe and Well safeguards the privacy of disaster victims according to privacy law standards.