Forney CEO Caitria O'Neill examines
the destruction of a tornado in Forney,
Texas, in April 2012. Photo credit: Dave Perry provides simple, easy-to-use online software for communities to respond by disaster. Through the platform, communities have tools to manage volunteers, donations, and information.

What inspired you to get involved with this work?
We got involved as organizers after an EF3 tornado hit our hometown of Monson, Mass. We had a hard time managing resource logistics and built a system to help other communities do the same. 

How did the PSC play a role in your work?
The PSC was instrumental in our early development. Sally Susnowitz was one of the first people to sit down with us and listen to our pie-in-the-sky plan to help people recover from disasters. We were pre-software, pre-proof, and pre-team, but the PSC encouraged us to apply for a $5,000 grant. With that money, we were able to build our rough prototype and travel to two disaster areas to test our concept. The money also positioned us to later win one of the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge grand prizes. Without this early, early support, we would not be a company today.

How has this work had a personal impact on you?
Every member of our team has changed direction through work on this project. Chris Kuryak SM '12 finished his master's degree in mechanical engineering at MIT and joined Recovers full-time upon graduation. Morgan O'Neill is continuing her PhD in atmospheric science but has devoted a significant amount of time to climate research related to disaster patterns to assist with community preparedness efforts. Alvin Liang, a graduate of MIT, left a software engineering position at a crash reporting company and built the entire Recovers software system from the ground up in the first six months. I shelved plans for a master's degree and began working full time early on in the project, and I now also speak about community preparedness and recovery at emergency service events across the country. Our whole team has devoted ourselves to this concept and are working hard to deliver useful tools to communities. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?
We have just introduced a free platform for household preparedness. Ready by Recovers allows households to create an Emergency Profile. The profile can be printed for your wallet or forwarded to your emergency contacts. The profile includes information about where you live, the numbers you would call to place an insurance claim, emergency phone numbers, etc. The process of filling out the profile is educational - there is information at each step explaining exactly why the information you print is important to have on hand.  The profile teaches the program about your house type and geographic location. We're currently developing additional tools that will suggest ways to prepare your house based upon this information.

Caitria O'Neill
Co-Founder & CEO