Bettie Wooten Tussey

Good Night Twitter

The world is mourning the loss of our beloved friend and Humanity Road family member Bettie Wooten Tussey.  Bettie tweeted as @RVAREgal   In January of 2010 Bettie Tussey joined Humanity Road in response to the Haiti earthquake, and our lives were transformed.  When Bettie walked into a room, you noticed.  She was a vivacious, well spoken and true southern lady.  She was known for her wit and straight forward matter of speech. But she was no wilting flower, she didn’t mince words.  Bettie had a master of the english language and knew exactly what she wanted to say.

It was seven years ago this week that Bettie Wooten Tussey reached out to Chris Thompson to help our group of volunteers.  She officially joined Humanity Road on  January 27, 2010. 

In her own words:  When I saw that the earthquake had struck in Haiti, I wanted more information on it and felt the need to do what I could to help. At the time, I was not aware of digital response to disasters but after searching Google, I discovered that help, in the form of needs and meeting those needs, was being done through a number of people on Twitter. I had a Twitter account but had never really used it. I very quickly joined in on searching for needs and tweeting. Shortly thereafter, I saw a tweet from HR (@HumanityRoad) indicating that they were looking for volunteers so I signed up and began tracking needs using the Ushahidi platform that had been established in conjunction with the test to 4636.”  

Bettie Tussey, 5th Year Anniversary interviews in 2015.  You can read the entire interview here

Her work was immediately felt.  She helped with mapping, recruiting, staffing and filling urgent needs.  She helped track down and monitor radio broadcasts as well as worked on solving requests for help.

In the past seven years Bettie helped support disasters around the world, including the Libya crisis map, Christchurch Earthquake, Recover Alabama, Hurricane Irene, School shootings, flooding in USA and many others.  She put in thousands of hours of service and earned the United States President’s Gold Volunteer Service award which was signed and issued to her by President Barack Obama.

Presidential Service Award

Presidential Service Award

Bettie was a thought leader and was known for filling her timelines in social media with sage advice, wit and humor, often sharing the best tips and advice with her digital friends and family.  She was a good friend and treasured member of our Humanity Road family.  Bettie will remain in our hearts forever.  We celebrate her life and want to close today with advice she shared thirty days after the earthquake struck Haiti.  “Goodnight Twitter friends. Sleep tight so that you’ll be ready to lend a helping hand when the sun comes up! :)”   We will Bettie and goodnight to you sweet friend!

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Funeral services will be held on Monday at Woody Funeral Home – Huguenot Chapel Midlothian, Virginia.  Visitation Prior to Service Monday, January 23, 2017 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm with a Memorial Service at 2:00 pm. For those friends who can not make it to the service a guest book digital memorial has been set up online.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Richmond Humane Society, the VCU Alumni Association or Humanity Road.  

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FEMA NRCC Visit

Humanity Road Disaster Response Team Tours FEMA National Response Coordination Center

This month, Humanity Road Volunteers and staff gathered at Lake Anna, Virginia for a retreat and planning session.   As part of the program, the team was invited to tour FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) facility in Washington DC.  The tour included an overview of the activation process and the team  met briefly with representatives from the FEMA Private Sector, Voluntary Agency Liaison, Individual Assistance, and National VOAD.  “This is Whole Community planning at its best.  It gives our team the chance to see first hand how the NRCC operates within our national response framework,” shared Cat Graham, Chief Operations Officer.  

“I was very excited to see FEMA engaging us in how we can collaborate in future disaster responses through social media” said Damon Talbot who volunteers for Humanity Road from his home in Oregon.

Humanity Road became a member of the FEMA Tech Sector team in April of 2015 .  Since then we have responded to events inside the USA and its protectorates and have been able to get a clearer indication of critical information needs to help improve the flow of information across the tech sector members and partners.  Over the past year and a half, Humanity Road has provided situation reports for Louisiana, Maryland, California, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina to name a few.  

Since the launch of the program examples of digital deployments included Typhoon Souldelor in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hurricane Joaquin.  In response to CNMI, the Private Sector liaison was enroute to meet with the local Chamber of Commerce, and Humanity Road volunteers compiled reports that provided an initial overview of  needs and impacts to businesses and hotels throughout the islands.  

In Oct 2015, Hurricane Joaquin caused extensive flooding along the east coast of the United States.  Humanity Road disaster response team received a request for information from FEMA on October 5th and in response provided a detailed Situation Report.  The focus was on water supplies, distribution of bottled water, and status of the private sector in the cities of Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina.  The team also produced a special resource report  which included resources for seniors and people with disabilities.

“Since the roll-out of the Tech Sector program the FEMA Tech Sector partners program has supported and helped to improve mission-related information sharing across all tech sector members.  It contributes to a faster response and ensures that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our response capabilities.”  Thank you FEMA!