Down but not out when disasters hit

UNITED STATES • Sisters Morgan and Caitria O'Neill never expected that a tornado would hit their small home town in Massachusetts - or that when it did, recovering from the disaster would change their lives.

On June 1, 2011, a pair of twisters ripped across the state, damaging their home in Monson. What began as a way to help their community get back on its feet after that disaster evolved into recovers.org - a free, easy-to-use "recovery-in-a-box" website designed by the sisters to help other cities and towns quickly organise disaster relief.

It can be rolled out in minutes, helping local relief organisers turn interest in helping into systematic action, said Mr Chris Kuryak, the project's chief operating officer.

The website helps locals manage volunteers and donations, track data about the disaster, and apply for grants and request aid through official channels such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross.

It also links volunteers with victims, allowing both groups to alert each other to what is needed and their ability to help.

The organisation now hosts more than 200 recovers sites for communities around the world.

"People should know that they can rely on these sites in their time of need," Ms Morgan O'Neill said. "This experience changed our lives, and now we're trying to change the experience."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Down but not out when disasters hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe