Earthquakes, hurricanes, political upheavals, acts of terrorism, and hijackings are only some of the events threatening the safety of Americans abroad. Each event is unique and poses its own special difficulties. However, for the State Department there are certain responsibilities and actions that apply in every disaster or crisis.
When a crisis occurs, the United States Department of State sets up a task force or working group to bring together in one set of rooms, all the people necessary to work on that event. Usually this Washington task force will be in touch by telephone 24 hours a day with our Ambassador and Foreign Service Officers at the embassy in the country affected.
Within a task force, the immediate job of the State Departmentís Bureau of Consular Affairs is to respond to the thousands of concerned relatives and friends who begin to telephone the State Department immediately after the news of a disaster is broadcast.
Relatives want information on the welfare of their family members and on the disaster. The State Department relies on its embassies and consulates abroad for hard information. Often these installations are also affected by the disaster and lack electricity, phone lines, gasoline, etc. Nevertheless, foreign service officers work hard to get information back to Washington as quickly as possible. This is rarely as quickly as the press is able to relay information. Foreign Service Officers cannot speculate; their information must be accurate. Often this means getting important information from the local government, which may or may not be immediately responsive
Families of U.S. relatives involved in a crisis can contact the Department of State through our Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management at (202) 647-5225
What COULD Happen? (And what would probably happen if it did?)
Should there be a Recommended or Ordered Evacuation
Pack luggage with suitable clothing and essential items. Remember seasonal changes/weather conditions.
Engage the children in packing their own backpacks or carry-on bags with toys, snacks, games, books, and other comforting items.
Make sure carry-on baggage includes the following items:
Medications (prescription and over the counter)
Medical/dental records, immunization cards
Extra glasses and prescriptions
School records, report cards, test scores, and current samples of work
Current power of attorney
Birth certificates, naturalization certificates, marriage certificates (if at post)
Driverís license, auto insurance policies, auto registration, and title, if applicable
Personal checks, check registers, latest bank statement
Safe deposit box keys
Lists with names and addresses of doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.
Travelers checks; U.S. currency, if possible
Household effects (HHE) inventory
Household goods insurance policy
Evacuation travel orders
Personal items and a change of clothing for each traveler
Snacks, juice, books
Choose practical traveling clothes suitable to the climate of destination.
Keep in touch with fellow evacuees.
This web-site is not a function of the United States government or of the United States Embassy in Guatemala. Most of the information on this web-site was selected from Guatemala.USembassy.gov, www.State.gov and www.FEMA.gov. Additional valuable information for international travelers can be found on all three of these web-sites.