Energy & Environment

FEMA rolls out text feature to help Americans find open shelters during disasters

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has updated its texting feature to help Americans find open shelters during disasters. 

The agency announced Tuesday that a person will be able to text “shelter” and their ZIP code to 43362, and a list of shelters within 200 miles of their location will be sent to them. 

A person with a phone that has a standard map feature will also be able to click on a shelter’s address from the text and have directions pop up.

“Disasters frequently disrupt communications systems which can leave survivors feeling overwhelmed and helpless when they are trying to locate shelters,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said. 

“Since texting capabilities are often unaffected during disasters, our updated Text to Shelter option is an easy and accessible way survivors can locate nearby shelters with a tap of a button. This feature will help keep our communities safe,” Criswell added. 

Standard texting rates may apply depending on a person’s carrier, but the service is free and done in collaboration with the Red Cross. 

The old texting feature would show only shelters within a person’s ZIP code. FEMA emphasized a person in a disaster situation should always listen to local and state authorities first.

Tags Emergency management Federal Emergency Management Agency shelters Text messaging

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