Department of State Calls on GSA During Hurricane Odile

After devastating Hurricane Odile, GSA was called upon to support the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services (DoS) by providing updates to Americans via the USA.gov Contact Center. It was imperative to get information to loved ones and families after, September 15, 2014, Hurricane Odile, a storm of unprecedented strength, hit the resort cities of Los Cabos, and the capital city of La Paz in Baja California Sur, Mexico., where it left damaged infrastructure, hotels, and buildings, shut down airports, and left residents and travelers stranded without power, and in some cases, without food and water.

USA.gov Contact Center employees field calls during Hurricane Odile.
USA.gov Contact Center employees field calls during Hurricane Odile.

The highly skilled Information Specialists at the Contact Center calmly responded to callers who were anxious and worried about their loved ones.  They provided accurate and updated information about the conditions in Mexico, where to seek help, which airports were open, how to replace storm-damaged passports, and the actions the Government was taking to help those stranded.  The staff worked long shifts to meet the surging volume which — at its peak — was four times a typical day.

The DoS relied heavily on information from the Contact Center to make decisions about setting up a Task Force, what information to include in talking points and on the website, and to determine what resources were needed on the ground in Mexico.