Social Media Helps Rescue Harvey Survivors

Social media has changed the world that we live in forever. It has allowed us to communicate and share information in a way that is fast and effortless. Social media also helped to save a lot of lives during the recent Hurricane Harvey disaster in Houston, Texas. There were many stranded people who used their social media accounts to tell authorities that they were in trouble and they needed to be rescued. These people used the hashtags #SOSHarvey and #SOSHouston on Twitter. A spreadsheet was then created as a way for members of the National Guard and FEMA to keep track of all the rescue requests that were coming in.

An app called Zello was used by first respondents to help coordinate all of the rescues. Zello has the ability to make a cell phone act just like a CB radio. Different channels were used in order to deal with various areas of the city where rescues were being requested. There is no question that the speed and accuracy of this technology helped to save lives during the tragedy. Bill Moore is the chief executive officer of Zello. He is the founder of the app company that is headquartered in Austin, Texas. The company was started in 2012. Moore says that the Zello app has been used often during disasters and other scenarios where people need to be rescued.

The Hurricane Harvey disaster once again showed the power of social media. There is no question that the technology of smartphones, apps, and social media will be expanded upon in the future. Several app developers are already hard at work creating apps that can be used specifically in emergency scenarios. It remains to be seen if they will be able to function as flawlessly as Zello did when it was used to coordinate Harvey rescues.

There was some concern from local police that people who were using Twitter hashtags would not be rescued in time. Therefore, they were urging people to either call 911 or their local police department if they were in need of a rescue. The fact that both Twitter hashtags started to trend so quickly demonstrates just how fast information can be shared in a crisis on social media. There is no question that people are alive today who would not be if social media technology did not exist. It will continue to save more lives in the future.


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Dil Bole Oberoi