City’s 311 non-emergency call center fields hundreds of calls from residents interested in donating to or volunteering with relief organizations.
Although hundreds of miles away from the East Texas region hit by Hurricane Harvey, many El Paso citizens found ways to help the victims of the storm by contacting the City of El Paso’s 311 non-emergency hotline in late August and early September.
The city’s 311 call center, operated by El Paso-based service provider DATAMARK, served as a point of contact for residents looking for ways to assist fellow Texans affected by the major hurricane. Harvey made landfall on August 25 near Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm with wind gusts up to 130 miles per hour. Stalling over Southeast Texas, Harvey dumped record amounts of rain over several days, causing floods that damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
Since Hurricane Harvey was completely unexpected, the El Paso City Manager quickly held a press briefing where he announced the availability of the city’s 311 center for citizens to reach for all volunteering and donation information. With the emergency at hand, the El Paso Fire Department, the city department that manages the 311 contract, and DATAMARK, the 311 provider, responded quickly to develop a contingency plan to accommodate this effort.
The center’s 311 agents provided citizens with the phone numbers of organizations in need of monetary donations and volunteers to assist Harvey’s victims. The organizations included the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, the Best Friends Animal Society, and the Humane Society of the U.S.
The City of El Paso has been promoting the 311 hotline as the number for citizens to call for all non-emergency services and information—a convenient, “one-stop” service that eliminates the need for residents to hunt through the phone book or web sites to find individual city department phone numbers.
“The ‘one-call to 311’ during Hurricane Harvey was really helpful for citizens who wanted to find out the best way to connect with organizations that were accepting donations or seeking volunteers to help with relief efforts,” said DATAMARK 311 Site Leader Dennis Reglen. “It was wonderful to see the hundreds of calls that came in to the call center in the aftermath of the storm—it shows how much El Pasoans were eager to help any way they could.”
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