Red Cross introduces app to aid in damage assessment

Red Cross introduces app to aid in damage assessment

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While you're making dinner from the comfort of your own home, teams of Red Cross volunteers are far away from theirs. They are in Myrtle Beach to help victims still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.

On Friday, Mandy Noell met the Disaster Assessment Team to learn their role and found out about the new technology that helps them do it even better. They come from California, Nevada, Canada, Wisconsin and even our area. The American Red Cross' Disaster Assessment Team is in charge of finding the areas that need the most help.

The Disaster Assessment Team was training during Mandy Noell's visit to the American Red Cross Myrtle Beach chapter's headquarters. They were learning about a brand new technology.

"We go out and do what they call a preliminary damage assessment which ascertains the number, roughly, of the number of major and minor damaged structures. We are concerned with more residential than business structures," said Red Cross Disaster Assessment Lead Steve Buck.

And now they're getting help. They've historically been armed with a pen and paper but Friday, team leads were outfitted with a cell phone. There's an app the Red Cross just brought in to test mode - created specifically for emergency situations like we are seeing after Hurricane Matthew. Instead of taking time to take notes of roads and structures, and keeping track of areas that have been damaged by associating it with a road, the disaster assessment teams will be able to use GPS to pin an exact location.

When they see a home with severe damage they'll be able to upload pictures and information in real time.

"We get information for ourselves and share it with emergency management in the counties. FEMA shares their information with us, as do the emergency managers in the county. And pretty soon it's all in one big package and we know what we're dealing with," Buck said.

And they'll know quicker, so they can get victims help quicker, using a virtual system that uploads information instantly. It's just in test mode, so there are kinks to work out with the system. But, eventually this will be a common tool to help in the midst of crisis.

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