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Disaster Response

Disaster Response

In 2005 the southeastern United States experienced unprecedented natural disasters. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita battered the Gulf Coast and affected millions of people. Homes and businesses were destroyed. Residents were evacuated to shelters in surrounding states. Children went missing.

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In 2010 another disaster struck, this time in Haiti. This 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the small Caribbean nation. In response, aid organizations and governments from around the globe, including the United States, descended on the island and provided support.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reviewed the response to the earthquake in Haiti and determined that the United States needed a better way to coordinate reunification of families separated during disasters.

FEMA looked to the work done by NCMEC during Katrina and Rita and reached out for assistance. Through this joint effort NCMEC has now launched the Unaccompanied Minors Registry.

Katrina photo

A meeting location at a shelter for children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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The Unaccompanied Minors Registry

The Unaccompanied Minors Registry is a tool for reporting children displaced during a disaster such as a hurricane, tornado or terrorist attack. Through the Unaccompanied Minors Registry NCMEC is able to assist emergency management personnel on the ground in their efforts to reunite families.

The Unaccompanied Minors Registry:

  • Provides a place for emergency management agencies, law enforcement, shelter staff, hospital employees and other organizations to report minors in their care during disasters.
  • Accepts reports of children up to 18 who have been separated from their parents, legal guardians or other relatives.
  • Allows shelters, hospitals and other agencies managing a large number of unaccompanied children to upload entire lists of names at once.

The registry is also available to the public. If you locate an unaccompanied minor, call your local law enforcement agency immediately. Then complete the Unaccompanied Minors Registry form.

When a person makes a report to the Unaccompanied Minors Registry it goes directly to NCMEC’s Call Center. A case will be opened for the child and information will be passed on to field resources on the ground.

National Emergency Child Locator Center

In addition to the Unaccompanied Minors Registry, NCMEC operates the National Emergency Child Locator Center.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Within hours, the U.S. Department of Justice requested that NCMEC establish a hotline to handle calls of displaced children and adults. NCMEC also deployed thirty Team Adam consultants to the affected areas. As a result of NCMEC’s efforts, the last of the 5,192 children displaced by the storm was reunited with her family in Houston, Texas in March 2006.

In October 2006, Congress and President George W. Bush solidified this disaster support resource and created the National Emergency Child Locator Center. When a national disaster is declared by the President, NCMEC can activate this Call Center to assist in the location of children and the reunification of families resulting from the disaster or subsequent evacuations.

Target is the Founding Sponsor of the National Emergency Child Locator Center.

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