Roughly a month after tornadoes swept across the Southeast, cities and towns continue to lead recovery and relief efforts. Across the region, communities are hosting fundraisers and donation drives to help those who were significantly affected by the tornadoes. Some towns experienced serious damage and communication lines were limited after the storms, so officials turned to Blackboard Connect to deliver important instructions to residents and provide information about local recovery and relief programs.

In Uniontown, Ala., Mayor Jamaal Hunter sent a message a few days after tornadoes touched across the state encouraging residents to donate bottled water and toiletries to local shelters in need. At the University of Alabama, the Acts of Kindness Fund was created to provide financial assistance to eligible students, faculty and staff affected by the storms.

As several southern towns continue to recover from the tornadoes, heavy rains and severe spring storms have caused record flooding in towns and cities running along the Mississippi River. In what is expected to be one of the worst floods in decades, the River has been projected to top out at 48 feet and more than 1,300 residents have been ordered to evacuate.

A few years ago, the combination of heavy winter storms, spring rain and rapid thawing caused flooding in Fargo, N.D. in early 2009. Initially used to notify of school closures, Blackboard Connect was instrumental in recruiting volunteers from the community as Fargo Public School officials sent out messages asking for help in producing and arranging sandbags along the Red River banks.

What has already been a very eventful spring looks to continue into summer, as hurricane season begins June 1st and forecasters are predicting this season will be ‘above active.’ Over the years, we have worked with numerous clients in preparing communications in the event of a hurricane. In our Hurricane Kit, we have compiled materials to help school districts, universities and local governments deliver effective, timely messages during the lifecycle of a hurricane.

Severe storms and weather patterns are often unpredictable, and having a reliable system in place to communicate quickly can prove powerful in coordinating recovery and relief efforts. To learn more about communicating during severe weather, visit the Blackboard Connect website.

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