San Francisco-based science media specialist Jessica Decker, who works at the California Academy of Sciences, jumped into the fray of volunteers looking to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and to help volunteers coordinate their efforts and find locales at which to volunteer. On Friday, with the help of a collaborator in Boston, Danny McGlashing, she created an online relief map, mapping volunteer opportunities as well as shelters, medical aid, and other relief resources. They also created a rescue map that takes individuals' requests for rescue on social media and maps them, with color codes for levels of urgency.
As Decker tells CBS 5, "Thousands of panicked people were tweeting for help as the water rose, and 911 calls got stalled or resulted in hours-long delays. We just couldn’t let those go by." She and McGlashing decided to mobilize and build a tool themselves saying, "It became apparent there was no organized project to plug into, yet, and plenty of people on Twitter looking for one."
Now, five days into the disaster, the maps are still being used on the rescue map as of this afternoon there are 153 rescues listed as "emergent" and 389 listed as "urgent."
Those seeking help are told to tweet their location and any details @HarveyRescue with the hashtag #HarveySOS. As rains have moved, calls for rescue and volunteers have been coming from Port Arthur via Twitter today.
Decker says she went onto Twitter Friday thinking about a possible mapping project, saying, "I have helped with other open-mapping relief efforts in the past."
Also, Decker's project itself needs data and map volunteers, and you can learn how to help on the website. Over 500 people have contributed to the project so far.