Houston nonprofit searches for those missing after Harvey, but they could learn a lesson from Katrina

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: People evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Texas Center for the Missing, a nonprofit organization based in Houston, has taken up the search for the people who are still missing in Harvey’s aftermath.

After the storm hit, TCM staffers were out at shelters in Houston taking reports of missing people. At the George R. Brown Convention Center, one of the largest shelter locations during the storm, they received 138 reports of missing people related to the storm, according to the Houston Chronicle.

They got another 11 reports via their website, totaling 149. That’s around the same number of reports that come in to TCM over the course of a year.

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After working with the Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 125 of those people reported missing at George R. Brown were found safe.

Sadly, three people were found dead, and six are still missing. Seven from the 11 website reports also have not yet been found.

Others have gone missing outside the scope of these lists. The fact that shelters didn’t have a comprehensive database of who checked into them during Harvey makes missing people harder to track.

During Katrina, most shelters had an online database of who was there, according to TCM Director Beth Alberts.

Additionally, homelessness and lack of ability to contact loved ones can contribute to lack of knowledge of one’s whereabouts. If someone only has a landline at their home, and it goes down, and they can’t be reached any other way, it’s hard to know whether they’re safe.

TCM continues to work on all open cases. If you need help locating a missing person, you can file a report on their website, or call them at 713-599-0235.

RELATED: Two high schools are combining forces to make the most of their situation post-Harvey

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