Olathe & Southwest Joco

May 29, 2013

Olathe company behind Oklahoma’s tornado recovery website

NIC Inc. builds and operates websites for more than half the 50 states. It includes a disaster recovery site as part of the deal, and Oklahoma put it to use following the recent Moore tornado.

Olathe-based NIC Inc. is the technology company behind a website Oklahoma is using to help victims, first responders and volunteers in the Moore tornado aftermath.

NIC’s main business is building and operating websites for state governments. These allow residents, businesses and others to do business with the state online.

For example, drivers can renew their licenses or car tags without leaving home.

OKStrong

, the state’s disaster recovery site, popped up within 24 hours of the tornado’s deadly May 20 strike, said John Estus, spokesman for the Oklahoma office of management and enterprise services, which handles information technology needs for the state’s various agencies.

Estus said the quick response was possible because NIC provides the disaster recovery website as part of its package of services in anticipation of potential needs. NIC provides the framework and technology, leaving the state to drive the flow of information.

“We can organize this anyway we want,” Estus said.

The state site includes an interactive map showing areas where access still is restricted because of the storm and where previously restricted areas have been opened.

There are lists of cellphone charging centers for victims, volunteers and responders as well as sites where victims can receive phones.

Donors will find locations where they can drop off food, clothing and water, and detailed instructions about the items some sites need or won’t accept.

Estus said state and NIC employees have been working steadily to update the site with as much information as possible, including a warning from the state’s attorney general’s office about gouging and scams.

“You can’t have too much information,” Estus said.

Volunteers, victims and responders also can get information from a similar website run by the

city of Moore. It was developed through Recovers.org, which founders developed after a tornado struck Monson, Mass., in 2011.

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