• Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

Amazon will assist in hurricane season with rapid delivery of disaster relief supplies


Jun 1, 2021

(CNN) – The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins this Tuesday, June 1 and is forecast to be busy again.

With an active season in mind, Amazon and the Red Cross hope that a new disaster relief center and partnership will enable a faster response to locations affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“Our disaster relief and response team is partnering with global humanitarian aid organizations to leverage Amazon’s scale to help improve response time to large-scale natural disasters around the world,” said Alicia Boler. Davis, vice president of Global Customer Compliance at Amazon, in a press release to CNN.

Amazon announces the opening of its Disaster Relief Center in Georgia, to help rapidly respond to natural disasters, and its partnership with six global humanitarian aid organizations, including the Red Cross.

Andrés, the storm ahead of the season 1:01

Trevor Riggen, Senior Vice President of Disaster Services for the American Red Cross, says this startup combines its own disaster response background with Amazon delivery insights.

“This latest effort at the disaster relief center is an opportunity for us to [la Cruz Roja] let’s take advantage of your experience [de Amazon] in logistics and we can work with them to get resources just in time to places that are difficult to reach, ”said Riggen. “Places that are difficult to move resources without an airplane, and Amazon has that ability to move things quickly.”

American Red Cross volunteer Casey Garnett unloads emergency cleanup kits after Hurricane Laura in Georgetown, Louisiana, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.

This includes places like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Latin America, the Caribbean, and even the rural and remote regions of the United States.


The Amazon hub, located in Atlanta, will store more than half a million relief supplies donated by Amazon.

There will be enough supplies in stock to immediately fill an Amazon Air 767 aircraft to quickly deliver critical goods to community partners when disaster strikes.

The program began due to a letter to the former CEO of Amazon.

“Jeff Bezos actually got a letter from someone in Louisiana in 2016 when the floods hit and said, ‘Amazon is the best at getting things to the most remote areas of America, how can you help us get supplies here?’ “Said Bettina Stix, director of Disaster Relief at Amazon. “That was really the vision I had. We can reach even the most rural communities, we have transportation methods to get there.

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After a natural disaster, emergency teams assess what supplies they have, purchase the items they need, and then consolidate, pack, and ship them to disaster areas. This process can take several days. To shorten the procedure, Amazon studied its disaster support data over four years and formed a strategy.

Location is everything

The organizations chose the Atlanta location because of its proximity to the areas most often hit by hurricanes. Atlanta, for example, is just 300 miles (482 km) from the Gulf Coast, about 700 miles (1,120 km) from the Bahamas, and 1,500 miles (2,414 km) from Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.

In the United States, rural locations can pose problems when roads are damaged.

Southwest Louisiana was hit multiple times last year by different tropical systems.

During Hurricane Sally last year, the Pensacola Bay Bridge was severely damaged, limiting not only people trying to evacuate, but also aid.

Disaster Support Center

An Amazon disaster center in Georgia, which will help the Red Cross and other organizations deliver critical supplies to disaster areas

In the Caribbean, many islands can be difficult to reach right after a disaster, making airplanes the only accessible way to enter.

“Since 2017, we’ve had hurricanes: Maria, Irma, Dorian, all of them hit islands, and as we know, the crucial way to get there is by plane, that’s the fastest way,” Stix said.

Not only did all of those hurricanes hit islands, but they all reached Category 5, the highest possible level for a tropical cyclone. Hurricane Dorian was exceptionally devastating.

“Not only was it one of the strongest on record in the Atlantic basin, it was stationary, or nearly stationary, over the Bahamas for more than 24 hours as a Category 4-5 storm,” recalled Taylor Ward, a CNN meteorologist. .

“This made it one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country. The extreme force devastated the area and the slow movement delayed the arrival of humanitarian aid, ”said Ward.

The hope is that if a similar disaster strikes, precious time will not be wasted locating, sorting, and packing relief items.

The forecast calls for another active hurricane season

This year could be the sixth consecutive above-average hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This year, it also marked the seventh consecutive year that at least one named tropical system has formed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season.

“We prepare each year as if it is going to be a very busy disaster season, but when we look at these forecasts they are almost a guarantee that there is going to be an above-average amount of activity, that tells us that we are going to be busy all day. summer through fall, ”said Riggen.

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“A lot of pre-planning goes into a peak season like this to make sure, regardless of the level of activity, that we have enough resources and can move them just in time,” he said.

Since its inception in 2017, Amazon’s disaster relief and response efforts have provided more than 13 million items and tens of millions of dollars to support community partners around the world during 59 separate natural disasters, according to Amazon.

How to prepare for the unknown

There are three phases the Red Cross goes through during an operation: the what, where and when.

“People don’t always need the cleaning supplies from the first minute, they need the relief supplies, they need to make sure that they can keep their family safe, that they have food and water right after the storm. That’s what, ”Riggen said.

Then there is the place… where are the people? Keep in mind that some people move to a shelter, stay with relatives, or in some cases an entire community is evacuated to a neighboring community. So those supplies must go where people are after the disaster, not before.

Red Cross volunteers

Volunteers from the American Red Cross help move comfort kits in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, February 21, 2021.


There is also another factor to consider: connectivity. People want wifi connections and the ability to use their cell phones. Not just people living in communities affected by the storms, but also first responders and humanitarian workers.

The ability to communicate with loved ones, tell them that they are okay after a disaster strikes, or the ability of those responsible to communicate with communities and with each other is critical.

The program of Disaster Response Amazon Web Services (AWS), which tracks global disasters, will also partner with organizations such as the NGO Help and the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) for their by helping people access critical data locally.

AWS and ITDRC will appear at a disaster scene with generators, satellite dishes, Wi-Fi repeaters, and miles of cable.

These volunteers work to establish temporary connectivity when the power supply is cut and there are no antennas for cell phone service. At the same time, telecommunications and utility companies can focus on permanent infrastructure repair.

Warehouse in Mercedes, Texas.

American Red Cross volunteers unload items at a warehouse in Mercedes, Texas, Friday, July 31, 2020.

Food, water, and shelter are essential for disaster recovery, but the ability to distribute those essentials depends largely on good communication.

About 30% of all hurricanes in the Atlantic made landfall in the United States. However, it is not necessary for all predicted cyclones to make landfall in the US for this to be a destructive season.

«It does not matter if there are 30 cyclones or one […] if it affects you, it’s peak season, “said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.

If that happens, this partnership can help lessen the inevitable disruption that an unwanted tropic system brings.

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