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2-1-1 Responds to Disaster

2-1-1 Alameda County Sends Resource Specialists to Assist 2-1-1 Southern California

Hayward, CA (November 2, 2007) – Eden I &R, provider of 2-1-1 services for Alameda County, announced today staff members have been assisting 2-1-1 San Bernardino cope with the needs of the Southern California’s fire victims. Silvana Hackett, an Eden I&R 2-1-1 Resource Specialist has been assisting with data collection and has been helping to answer calls this week. Ollie Arnold, Eden I&R’s Housing Outreach Coordinator and an experienced disaster responder, assisted in handling 2-1-1 San Bernardino calls last week.

When disaster strikes throughout the country, 2-1-1 has become the number to call for non-emergency public information. In the past, this important phone service has demonstrated its value as a critical communication vehicle during and after such disasters as the hurricanes in Florida and the Gulf Coast, 9/11 on the East Coast, and the SARS epidemic scare in Toronto.

Most recently 2-1-1 is now helping Southern California fire victims keep abreast of such critical information as: emergency shelter locations; closed transportation routes; ability to enter fire zones; location and hours of disaster relief services; and assistance with alternative housing.

According to Elizabeth Sadlon of 2-1-1 California, 2-1-1 San Diego reported receiving 25,108 calls in one day in response to the fires; a total of 86,513 as of October 25.

“We are pleased to be able to support our 2-1-1 sister agencies by sending two of our trained staff members to increase the capacity of the San Bernardino 2-1-1 call center,” said Barbara Bernstein, Executive Director of Eden I&R. “We have a great network of 2-1-1 support systems that span the Bay Area, the state of California and the entire country. When the need occurs 2-1-1 call centers are able to support each other in order to make sure that the public receives the most up to date disaster recovery information available.”

“Ms. Arnold’s experience as a disaster services volunteer, and her knowledge as an AIRS Certified Information and Referral Specialist, made her an asset to the disaster relief effort in Southern California,” explained Jackie Ruggles, Deputy Director. “I am confident that her expertise greatly assisted with the recovery process.”

2-1-1 Alameda County is currently available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is the number to call for health, housing and human services information. It is also the number to call for vital information in the aftermath of an earthquake, fire, or other disaster. Eden I&R is a member of the Alameda County Emergency Manager’s Association and Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD). 2-1-1 Alameda County participates in ongoing county-wide disaster preparedness collaboration efforts as well as countywide disaster drills.

For more information about 2-1-1 Alameda County, visit www.edenir.org or call Eden I&R’s Executive Director, Barbara Bernstein, at 510-537-2710, ext. 8. For additional information about 2-1-1 nationally visit www.211.org; for 2-1-1 statewide information visit www.cairs.org.


Ollie Arnold, Eden I&R’s Housing Outreach Coordinator, describes 2-1-1 San Bernardino calls:

An elderly couple was pretty sure their house was still intact and they needed to get back right away. The husband’s blood pressure medication was there and they couldn’t get in touch with his doctor to get another prescription. No one else would give them a prescription without their doctor’s approval. 2-1-1 assisted the couple in receiving information about getting an escort to their home in order to retrieve the medicine.

A man who was very unhappy and angry called about having to go from hotel to hotel for the past 4 days. He wanted to go home right now. I explained that the area was on mandatory evacuation. I tried to refer him to the Mental Health staff members that were temporarily stationed at the 2-1-1 Center but he refused. He kept insisting on going back to his house. He finally understood that he couldn’t go back because he would be arrested. I think that our phone call helped him better understand the situation and allowed him to vent his frustrations.

I got several phone calls from people who were being allowed to temporarily visit their homes. I gave them a list of instructions that included: throw out everything in your refrigerator even if it looks okay; make sure to wear hard shoes, long sleeve tops and long pants; and bring heavy duty gloves to protect your hands. Masks and garbage receptacles were being provided by the health department.


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