SAS mobilizes volunteers, analytics experts to support Hurricane Florence relief

SAS employees and technology are helping those affected by Hurricane Florence. Image provided by  NCDOT

Once a disaster is over, and the frenzy of news stories and social media posts has subsided, it can seem like the crisis has passed. However, for those Hurricane Florence survivors left with ruined homes and businesses, damaged schools and buildings, there remains a struggle to return to normalcy. As a proud corporate citizen of North Carolina, SAS has mobilized its employees and resources to continue to support those in need, and is exploring innovative ways to partner with government and non-profit organizations dedicated to providing relief.

Helping out before the storm hits

Some of that work preceded Florence’s arrival.

As the storm headed relentlessly towards the east coast, SAS, along with the NC Department of Information Technology and our neighboring states of South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia, urgently worked to share patient data through the states’ health information exchanges. This effort was made so that people affected by Hurricane Florence, including those who might be injured in a neighboring state, could still be treated by a provider with access to his or her full patient data. For instance, a hospital treating an injured North Carolinian who rode out the storm in Virginia would be able to pull up patient background from NC and know that they are allergic to a certain medication.

Helping out after the hurricane

As a long-time supporter of the Red Cross, SAS is helping the organization identify and prioritize needs at individual shelters by analyzing social media data. Text analysis on thousands of tweets can help direct supplies and workers to areas based on specific needs. Having that level of insight in a matter of minutes rather than days can make all the difference in someone’s life.

It may be months before the hardest hit counties in eastern NC recover completely. SAS is engaging with county leaders to understand immediate and longer term needs, and how analytics can help answer critical questions to inform recovery efforts.

At the individual level, SAS employees have mobilized to support a wide variety of relief efforts. Volunteers donated and loaded supplies at Raleigh-Durham airport to be flown down east, while others served thousands of hungry people in pop up kitchens. Some helped displaced homeowners remove personal belongings from their damaged homes, and others set up GoFund Me accounts for affected friends. Two employees accompanied their motorcycle club and three truckloads of supplies to Boiling Spring Lakes, NC, where a dam failed. They then spent the weekend cutting trees and clearing properties for members of the community.

We will keep supporting our home state through the long road to recovery. If you are interested in helping those affected by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and beyond, this article from NPR provides many options for donating and volunteering.

Learn more about SAS' commitment to people and the planet

About Author

I-sah Hsieh

Global Account Manager

I-Sah Hsieh is the Global Manager, International Development at SAS where he helps development organizations apply analytics to increase the pace of growth and prosperity in established and developing nations. I-Sah holds an engineering degree from Cornell University and has 15 years' experience in the software industry, across highly regulated industries like healthcare, defense, and telecommunications.

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