NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Help is just one free phone call away for Arkansans with serious unmet needs as a result of the disastrous ice storm that struck last month. A call to this easy-to-remember number-2-1-1-can link anyone who needs help with people who are able to provide help. Arkansas 2-1-1 is also the number to call to find volunteer opportunities and organizations that need donations.
"People who lack the resources for debris removal, repair of storm-damage to utilities, home repairs, utilities or food are finding that a call to 2-1-1 may connect them to the help they need," said State Coordinating Officer Rich Griffin with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. "The 2-1-1 line has made a huge difference for diaster victims in our state."
Those in need and anyone seeking to help them can also locate resources on the Website, www.arkansas211.org. There are 2,197 agencies that assist with disaster relief work in the system's database.
Arkansas 2-1-1 operators have at least 100 hours of training and have been tested on their knowledge. Fully 96 percent of calls are answered by a live operator within the first 30 seconds. Calls are answered from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week. If a call does not go through on 2-1-1, there is a toll free alternative number, 1-866-489-6983.
Since it was launched in May 2008, the Arkansas 2-1-1 system has handled 29,537 disaster-related calls and inquiries. It is used not only by individuals seeking help but also by social workers, voluntary agencies and others who provide one-on-one assistance.
"Arkansans are fortunate to live in a state with such a robust and helpful 2-1-1 referral system and a strong network of voluntary agencies supported by generous donors," said Mike Moore, the federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.