When a freak tornado hit her Massachusetts hometown, Caitria O’Neill wasn't an expert in disaster relief recovery. But she learned quickly and is now passing her knowledge on through the website Recovers.org.

Why you should listen

Caitria O'Neill, then 20, had just graduated from college in the summer of 2011, and was preparing to begin a Master's program in Moscow. But on June 1, an EF3 tornado hit her hometown of Monson, Massachusetts. Caitria, along with her older sister Morgan, quickly took action. Working as lead volunteer coordinators, the two created a flexible framework for an "unofficial" community relief effort. By leveraging the short term spike in national interest, along with social media and database organization, Monson recorded more volunteer hours than any surrounding town -- hundreds more hours, in fact.

After this intense experience, Catria and Morgan have translated their system into organizing software for local coordinators, through the website Recovers.org. This “recovery in a box” can be rolled out in minutes, helping local relief organizers turn interest into action. Caitria serves as Chief Executive Officer.

What others say

“You don't speak FEMA? That's OK -- you can still help your community bounce back from a disaster.” — PBS

Caitria O'Neill’s TED talk