2-1-1: In times of disaster

Thursday, February 13, 2020

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2-1-1: In times of disaster

Dialing 2-1-1 is the first step many take for help with health or human services. Callers speak to a live, trained 2-1-1 specialist who refers them to resources and perhaps more importantly, is someone who listens and cares. 

Every month, an average of 1,000 people in the 10 counties served by our local United Way’s 2-1-1 call center dial those three simple numbers seeking a listening ear and a source of knowledge.

When disaster strikes, whether natural or man-made, receiving timely information is critical. In the past two years, our 2-1-1 call center was activated for three weather-related disasters, resulting in more than 1,000 total disaster-related calls. 

When activated, our 2-1-1 call center works directly with county emergency management through a memorandum of understanding with Wisconsin Emergency Management. Call center specialists provide as much up-to-the-minute information as possible, including damage reports. 

People in need of assistance during a disaster are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 for any non-life-threatening situations. During the last three activations, 2-1-1 specialists fielded calls relating to power restoration, road closures, evacuation routes, shelters, and much more. 

The information collected from each call is shared with county emergency management and they deploy assistance and/or volunteers to affected locations. 

In the weeks and months following a disaster, 2-1-1 focuses on assisting with long-term recovery. Call center specialists continue to provide information to the affected communities as they repair damage and recover.

In times of disaster, or any time of need, 2-1-1 is here to take your call.


2-1-1 is a free and confidential service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year throughout the United States. Our local 2-1-1 call center is operated by United Way Fox Cities and funded by: United Way Fox Cities, 2-1-1 Wisconsin, Oshkosh Area United Way, United Way Manitowoc County, United Way of Sheboygan County, Fond du Lac Area United Way, United Way of New London, Ripon Area United Way, Wishing Well of Green Lake County, and The Greater Random Lake/Adell United Fund.