When it comes to mitigating damages caused by hurricanes, communication is the most powerful tool. In 2017 alone, hurricanes have caused billions of dollars in damages, with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma estimated to have collectively caused $290 billion in damage. A texting platform can significantly reduce these damages through improved communication, increased donations, and better volunteer coordination. Here are the best ways to help with hurricane relief by implementing text messaging into your communications strategy.
Increase Disaster Relief and Donations with Mobile Keywords
Hurricanes can cost billions of dollars in damages that can set communities back significantly. Generally, everyone wants to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, but often are unaware of ways to help. SMS texting is an extremely effective tool used by hurricane relief non-profit organizations to inform the public of disaster relief efforts and where to donate to Harvey and Irma victims.
American Red Cross enabled volunteers to quickly send a text to donate to Hurricane Irma relief. By texting the mobile keyword “IRMA”, donors could quickly donate $10 and have it added to their next phone bill.
Shoe Station, Inc, a user of Trumpia’s SMS automation software, found an effective way of advertising and collecting donations for hurricane relief. They saw an opportunity to help people affected by Harvey through a shoe drive. Shoe Station sent a text to their subscribers in four different cities across two states, asking them to bring in gently worn shoes. The response they received was phenomenal, as one store alone was able to collect 15 cases of shoes which fit upwards of 40 pairs per case. Totaling up the shoes they collected from all locations, they were able to send approximately 800 pairs of shoes to hurricane victims.
Young Businessmen of Tulsa is another prime example of how to use Trumpia’s SMS software for hurricane relief, where they utilized the keyword “YBTGive” to attract members to donate to their donation drive. By sharing this keyword at monthly luncheons, as well as on print materials and videos, they were able to collect enough non-perishable items to pack a full semi truck and transport it to hurricane victims in Florida.
Share Hurricane Preparation Plans
The best way to avoid damages and injuries during a hurricane is to first be prepared with all possible evacuation plans. With an overall read rate of 98%, sending a text message that includes hurricane preparedness tips will ensure that the public is knowledgeable of what steps to take when disaster strikes. By sending this prior to a hurricane hitting, you can give the public sufficient time to prepare, evacuate, and find shelter.
To get the broadest reach possible when sharing your hurricane preparation plans, implement an SMS software that has an omni-channel solution. Not only will you be able to reach them through SMS, but you can also reach them through MMS, email, Facebook, Twitter, and voice broadcast. As a result, your audience will see your hurricane preparation plans, which increases its overall effectiveness dramatically.
Coordinate with Relief Teams and Manage Volunteers
First responders and disaster volunteer teams are vital for a smooth recovery and proper mitigation of damages during a hurricane. Power outages and destroyed telephone lines make it nearly impossible to communicate with victims and first responders through telephone calls. However, texting is more consistently available during natural disasters, due to its relatively low data usage.
When coordinating with relief teams and volunteers, it’s nearly impossible to do so over the phone, as you will need to simultaneously contact hundreds a individuals. A solution to this is mass texting, where you can have conversations with your entire list of volunteers at the same time to coordinate relief efforts. Texts are 10x faster than phone calls, making it quick and easy to manage your volunteers and coordinate relief efforts
Keep The Public Informed
A key factor when ensuring the safety of the public during a hurricane is keeping them informed of the latest news and developments. Providing the public with critical information helps them avoid dangerous obstacles, such as road closures, flooded areas, and grounded power lines. Texting is the fastest form of communication, as text messages are read in under 5 seconds, which provides the public with the most time when planning their travel and evacuation.
When sending out critical alerts and essential information, you want to make sure that relevant people are receiving your messages. Trumpia’s SMS software has a smart-targeting feature, where it takes custom data, such as a user's zip code, to determine which messages should be sent to which people. In the event of a hurricane, the SMS software will automatically send hurricane news to those living in zip codes that are affected. That way, you will avoid sending irrelevant alerts that may lead to opt-outs.
San Antonio Express News utilized Trumpia’s SMS software to send storm updates to specific keywords. Their audience needed this information immediately, so they wanted to make it as easy as possible for subscribers to get real time updates. The results of their messaging campaign was huge, as the standard breaking news list they had previously grown over time was quickly matched, then doubled and nearly tripled as the week went on. San Antonio Express News used SMS because as power went out in homes across the area, victims were unable to get desktop access. Luckily, they were still able to receive SMS alerts if their phones were charged and connected to cell networks.
Confirm Public Safety and Address Safety Concerns
Instead of leaving the safety of the public to chance, use texting to confirm their safety. A quick way of getting a head count of who’s safe and who’s still in danger is by sending a SMS voting poll. Send out a mass alert asking if each subscriber is safe, and if they reply “Yes” an automatic response will tell them to stay away from the affected area. If the subscriber replies “No”, the system will ask for their location and send specific evacuation plans. It only takes an average of 90 seconds to respond to a text, so you’ll be able to quickly confirm public safety.
Reestablish Communication with Loved Ones
Reconnecting with friends and family to let them know you’re safe is of the utmost importance. A sophisticated text messaging software, like Trumpia, provides a two-way texting feature, where users can have a quick conversation with loved ones to keep them updated.
Phone calls are often disrupted during hurricanes, but according to The New York Times, text messaging does “not seem to be affected to the same degree". Mobile communication vehicles planted around affected areas established enough cell connection to send text messages. While some phone lines may be operational, avoiding phone calls can free up phone lines to those that do not having texting capabilities.
The devastation caused by a hurricane can leave families separated when they need each other most. Implementing text messaging into your hurricane relief efforts can quickly get victims back on their feet and in the arms of their loved ones. If you're a nonprofit or know of one that could benefit from using SMS for relief efforts, click here to learn more about our free program, Trumpia Cares!