Cajun Navy Foundation volunteers continue to work diligently to collaborate resources for those in the path of Hurricane Michael. The citizen-led relief effort utilizes technology, business software, social media, logistics and marketing solutions to connect everyday people who want to work together to help deliver more efficient relief.
Michelle Szinavel said that she has been working with CNF for so long that she has lost count of the number of storms; including storms with no names, like the ones that flooded Texas last year. More recently, she has been on board for Hurricane Florence and now Michael. Michelle wears many hats at CNF, including handling time-sensitive inbox messages and organizing information into Noggin software to chronicle all activities as they occur.
Noggin OCA is a way to organize information as it comes in while helping to make informed decisions and respond immediately and effectively during time-critical situations. Rescue requests go into Noggin, as well as information about dispatchers, boaters and boots on the ground. Volunteers watch to see the rescues come in, verify that the information is correct, and then send the rescue location information out to the boaters.
A similar process is used for supply requests and supply donations. Anything that goes into CrowdRelief.net shoots right over to Noggin OCA, and requests can also be entered manually for those who don’t have access to a phone or computer.
“Noggin is a good asset. We use it to get all the puzzle pieces of what everyone is doing to fit together so that it makes a perfect and complete puzzle,” said Michelle.
In the final hours before Michael made landfall, Michelle was using that calm-before-the-storm time to get ready. No rescue requests had come yet, but she knew it wouldn’t be long.
“Right now, we are creating the maps for shelters and sharing information on social media,” said Michelle. “When I first started with CNF, I was just going to post articles and messages to help people get information. But when I started taking care of the inbox, it really changed. I spoke with people needing rescue, family members, people who wanted to help, boaters and some who just wanted to say thank you. I try to put myself in their shoes and to keep them calm. Even with the dispatchers we have, I’m here to help them so they can help people.”
Michelle had worked as Associate Director for Computer Operations at Nasdaq Stock Market for 20 years when she joined CNF. She has made some lifelong friends – her small band of Superwomen who do much of their work behind the scenes.
“I like seeing people helping each other and communities banding together,” said Michelle. “The hard part is when the cameras go away, we have to keep people engaged and coming in to volunteer on the ground when it’s time to rebuild. That’s what Cajun Navy Foundation is about. We keep reminding people that there is still a need. I know a lot of people want to get in their boats and come rescue, and we need that, but we need them to come afterwards, too.”
Cajun Navy Foundation needs your help! Please visit CrowdRelief.net to volunteer, or to send or request donations.