by Trudie Bruno, Customer Success Manager

The footprint left in the wake of natural disasters in the United States in 2018.

Natural disasters have effects which are both immediate and long-term, deeply affecting the areas in which these emergencies occur. The immediate effects are obvious, bringing to mind the image of a family stranded on the roof of their flooded home or that of a wildfire casting up a cloud of dark smoke. The long-term effects can be just as devastating, though, as natural disasters can force communities to rebuild everything from homes to social networks. Fortunately, there are many people, programs, and organizations that are generous with their time and resources to help people impacted by disasters in affected areas.

This heat map shows searches for free & reduced cost services on a disaster relief organization’s branded website, powered by Aunt Bertha. Search trends on this platform show areas of concentrated need, with the map showing search density as a spectrum of color moving from purple (low concentration of searches) to blue (medium concentration) to green (high concentration).

The heat map shows areas of highest search concentration over several areas of the US which were impacted by natural disasters in the past year:

Central California

The 2018 wildfire season was one of the most deadly and devastating seasons on record, with Central California experiencing widespread disaster from fires.

The high search density for social care resources in Central California aligns with areas which were most impacted by wildfires in 2018, likely as a result of communities recovering from fires.

Southern California

The 2018 wildfire season was devastating to Southern California as fires encroached on the densely populated areas surrounding Los Angeles.

The high search density for social care resources in Southern California is clustered in the region outside of Los Angeles, which was heavily impacted by wildfires in 2018.

A digital fire tracker created by the San Francisco Chronicle (1).

Florida Panhandle & Central Georgia

In 2018, the Florida Panhandle experienced one of the strongest storms ever to strike the US when Michael landed as a Category 4 hurricane.

Damages were estimated in the millions and assistance groups anticipated it would take months to even determine the full scope of the damages.

The high search density for social care resources in the Florida Panhandle and Central Georgia can be found in the region that was devastated by Hurricane Michael.

Searches for social services on Aunt Bertha follows the trail of devastation from natural disasters in 2018.
Hurricane Michael baring down on FL and GA (2).


Hurricane Florence caused unprecedented damage in the Carolinas and the East Coast as a slow-moving, moisture-heavy storm.

There is a high density of searches over the Carolinas, where Hurricane Florence stalled and dumped up to 30 inches of rain in some regions.

Interestingly, there is a medium density of searches across Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio following the path of Hurricane Florence before it turned east to New England.

A map showing Hurricane Florence’s devastating path across the East Coast.