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Help for Haiti

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A photo of the damage from the USAID Web site.

A photo of the damage from the USAID Web site.

I wanted to pass along the links the State Department posted instructing the public on how to provide assistance to the victims of yesterday’s devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.

State says the fastest way to give financially is to text HAITI to “90999.” A $10 donation will automatically go to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts. The charge will show up on your cell phone bill.

State also set up a number to call if you need information about loved ones affected by the disaster. The number is 1-888-407-4747.

You can find more disaster assistance information from the U.S. Agency for International Development here and from the Center for International Disaster Information here.

Relief from USAID is already on the way. The agency mobilized disaster response teams to assist with search and rescue and to help assess the damage the quake caused. The teams include 72 personnel from local, state and federal agencies; 6 search and rescue dogs; and 48 tons of rescue equipment.

The U.S. Geological Survey posted information about the magnitude and location of the earthquake here.

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Feds Fighting Flooding in Fargo

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For those of you following the rise (and hopefully rapid fall) of the Red River on the North Dakota-Minnesota border, the Fargo Forum has this story about how the federal government is using technology to do its part.

The Forum’s Brittany Lawonn reports that for the first time unmanned Predator drones are being used to monitor rising flood waters. The drones, which are on loan from Customs and Border Protection, provide real-time images to first responders and weather experts, helping them predict changes in the river. Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Greg Gust, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the confidence with which forecasters can say the river has crested stems from images obtained by Predator drones flying over the river valley Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

‘Our river forecasters are not only able to see in real time the aerial extent of the water, but the flows going over land and all these breakouts, and actually measure that from those flights, which means getting an incredible handle on all that water we didn’t know where it was,’ Gust said.

Full disclosure, Lawonn is a friend and fellow Boston University alumna.

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