Hundreds of victims of the flooding from Hurricane Harvey are resorting to social media to call for help.
Some Facebook users posted information about their or their family’s situation and pleaded for rescue. Some used Twitter to post their addresses and cries for help. Some posted photos on Instagram to show the extent of the damage to their homes.
Harvey marks the first major hurricane in the social media era; the National Weather Service defines a “major” hurricane as Category 3 or above.
Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, as a Category 4 storm Friday night. Since then, the Gulf Coast has been under constant threat of rain, with totals exceeding 40 inches forecast in some areas.
For those in need of rescue, some of the social media posts have either been monitored by authorities, or forwarded to the proper agencies by news media outlets and other observers.
In one incident, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales posted the address of a “pregnant woman going into labor” on his Twitter feed. Followers of his account, as well as the Houston Fire Department, responded to the message and arrived to help the mother.
The owner of a nursing home posted a photo on Sunday of elderly residents trying to move through waist-deep water. The photo quickly went viral and prompted residents to arrive with boats and help to evacuate the facility.
Many who turned to social media for help may have been frustrated by not reaching authorities through the overloaded 911 system. However, officials have urged those who do need help to stay on hold or keep trying the proper emergency response channels.