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Red Cross Page Serves Up Info on Survivors

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

There are still many people missing as a result of the storm, and there are many more Americans who don't know if a family member or a friend is safe. Well, the Red Cross has just launched the closest thing to a central online registry. People who are OK can let their loved ones know that, and it's someplace where the rest of us can go and search for just such announcements. It's called the Family Links Registry, and Tom Coral(ph) of the American Red Cross is overseeing it.

Mr. Coral, what's the Web site and what can we do with it?

Mr. TOM CORAL (Family Links Registry): Well, the Web site is located on the American Red Cross Web site at www.redcross.org, and individuals can log on and click on the Family Links Registry, which will take them to another Web site and they can enter a record of self-registration indicating their name, some other background information to confirm identification, and where they were from and also where they are located at present. And that then becomes a record that others might look for and find the location of such a person.

SIEGEL: So this is for people who are safe, who know that there may be friends and relatives around the country who are unsure about their whereabouts, and if they can get online they can register and do this.

Mr. CORAL: That's right, and we're also going to be establishing a call center with an (800) number that people can call in and provide this information over the telephone and people in the call center will then create a record on this Web site. So for those that can't log on but do have access to telephones, there's another way to make this record available.

SIEGEL: And again, you say that there will be verification of people who are going on the Web site to verify where they are, are who they say they are.

Mr. CORAL: It's not possible for the American Red Cross or the International Committee of the Red Cross to verify this information because anyone can log on and provide a record. So it is a publicly accessible Web site and anyone who wants to can go on and enter a record. There's no way for us to confirm the veracity of each of these individual records.

SIEGEL: And the rest of us can go in and search for names to see if we can find the person we're looking for?

Mr. CORAL: That's right. You can click on a list and search for a name. Because this is an international Web site, you might want to search both for the first name and the last name because there are many different naming conventions around the world. And if you don't find the name of a person you're looking for, you can create a record of a person sought, entering the name of that person and their last known whereabouts. And sometimes people will log on and see that they are being sought.

SIEGEL: Now I want to ask you, as authorities in Louisiana or Mississippi confirm the deaths of people who are missing as a result of Katrina, will the Red Cross put that information somewhere on the Web site or not?

Mr. CORAL: No. We will not put the names of deceased persons on this Web site.

SIEGEL: So this is a place where one can confirm good news about somebody who was in the storm, but we're not going to get confirmation of somebody deceased on this Web site.

Mr. CORAL: No.

SIEGEL: I'd like to you give us the Web site again.

Mr. CORAL: The Web site is www.redcross.org, and then click on the Family Links Registry, which will take you into another Web site where these pages will be shown and you can enter a record of self-registration or a person sought or check the list of people whose names are on the Web site.

SIEGEL: What time did the Web site go up?

Mr. CORAL: The Web site went up early this afternoon.

SIEGEL: And how many people have registered so far?

Mr. CORAL: I really don't know. I looked early this morning when it was just being tested, and there were about 20 names, and now there are thousands. It's hard to know how many actually. It's just a long, long alphabetical list, and you can scroll through and find names.

SIEGEL: Mr. Coral, thank you very much for telling us about it.

Mr. CORAL: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's Tom Coral, who is overseeing the Family Links Registry for the American Red Cross.

(Credits)

SIEGEL: Our coverage of Katrina continues over the weekend, including on WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, where longtime NPR correspondent Debbie Elliott makes her debut as the program's new host. As our correspondent based near Mobile, Alabama, she covered every major hurricane of the last decade, as well as stories of local homeland security initiatives and national politics.

I'm Robert Siegel, and you're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.