Over the past 60 days, Hurricane Harvey, Katia, Irma, Jose and Maria, as well as two major earthquakes hit North America. They caused billions in damages, killed hundreds (if not thousands), and displaced millions of people. These are the headlines we see and hear. But for many of us, these tragedies were real, and we know people personally who were impacted.
My wife, Seema, volunteered our house to six nurses who were coming to Houston from all over the country to help. We were surprised to find that night after night, they couldn’t volunteer at NRG Park because it already had too many nurses on site. On the surface, this was great to hear–the generosity of Houstonians was incredible. When we scratched the surface, however, we started hearing of people in need who couldn’t make it to the shelters, and that shelters had too many of some supplies, but were low on others. There were organizations sending trailers full of supplies from all over the country, but nobody knew who to give it to. People needed help with cleanup. They needed medical supplies and wheelbarrows, but they were receiving blankets and teddy bears. We found a problem that needed solving.
Disaster Connect was born to solve the problem of connecting people with specific needs to the people who can fill them. It can also connect people who have things to those who might need them. This kind of automatic matching will allow people to receive help faster than is possible through the current process of physically going to a shelter, posting on social media, texting etc.
Over a period of 3 weeks, our team (Evelina Tapia, Nathan Eror, Chris Mason, Terry Lewis, Dominique Yahyavi, Lali Lobzhanidze, Yujing Zheng and I) put in over 500 hours during nights and weekends in a marathon effort to get the Disaster Connect iOS and Android apps researched, designed and developed. The teams at Sketch City, Station Houston led by Jeff Reichman, Michael Sklar, Blair Garrou and John Reale provided the platform for our idea to be validated and take shape. Our goal was clear– make the app super simple and easy to use. In doing so, we started to wonder if Diaster Connect could help people beyond Houston, and act as a free resource for people all over the world. We have collectively been in the business of building enterprise mobile apps for startups and Fortune 500 companies for 9 years; maybe we have found our higher purpose.
You can download the apps at http://disasterconnect.io. Help us spread the word and connect us to relief and recovery organizations. Let’s help people recover faster! For any app related feedback, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For media inquiries please email email@example.com.
Short blurb to share on your networks: Disaster Connect is a mobile app to help people in disaster zones recover faster, by connecting those who have specific needs to the help available around them. Simply add your need to the app to let people text or call you directly. If you want to help others, simply click on the markers within this app to reach out to them quickly. Please share with relief agencies in disaster affected areas in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Mexico. Let’s help people recover faster!