Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Crowd Sourcing & Civilian Volunteers After Hurricanes One of the Stories of 2017.

One of the nice things about keeping the Jewish Sabbath, as I do, is that it gives me some time offline to catch up on reading things that I meant to read yet got lost in the busy every day pace of my world both on and offline during the rest of the week. Facebook feeds swallow up time faster than water rising in Hurricane Sandy. On Shabbos with a cup of tea and a snack I can rest on the comfortable sofa and read everything from saved articles such as the one above to leafing through encyclopedias to do some reading up on something. The article above was sent out in a year end review of 2017 and caught my attention as aside from being Hurricane related it told the story I heard before of a friend's brother who helped in the rescue of a sweet older woman. The nephew of the man in the rescue is a cute little boy who talked a blue streak to me this past Sukkos in his Sukkoth about the flooding in Houston where his Grandparents and family lived. I remembered when this was happening in real time I felt that this should be the real story of 2017. The way the Network of Social Media was used by Civilian Volunteers to help save people in real time during Hurricane Harvey. Maybe it just says something larger than life about the people of Texas .... but I like to think that it's human nature rising to the top doing good deeds to make the world a better place.

2017 Hurricane Season.
Crowd Sourcing to save lives.
Civilian Volunteers

I get tired of politics and agendas sometimes. There was a time we liked a little spin with our news but these days the spin is enough to make you dizzy before you barely get to the first commercial on the news.  If I was going to name the Person of the Year it would be the EVERYDAY PEOPLE who VOLUNTEERED and helped in the aftermath of hurricanes this year. The Cajun Navy that mobilized instantly using various social media platforms to get into flooded regions and get people out of homes that were going under water rapidly. Groups such as Chabad in Houston that were dealing with their own homes being flooded going out on search and rescue missions to help where help was needed. The sheer scope of the historic flooding in Hurricane Harvey put a huge dent into the normal fast response we expect after a hurricane. When such a large area is affected in disasters such as Katrina and Andrew the system begins to break down. But this year in particular the civilian responders jumped in when flood waters had already swallowed up their homes and the people of Houston got into their boats, trucks and waded personally into the water to help save lives in any way they could and they deserve an award. 

If you read the story of the 77 year old woman in Houston you will find out she called her son in England to tell him that flood waters had entered her 2nd flood apartment and she didn't know what to do. He called a friend in Chabad locally in England to ask if they knew someone in Houston and of course someone did and .....they put out a plea on the community WhatsApp group and immediately my friend in Raleigh's brother who lives in  Houston went out with a few volunteers to rescue the woman. More wonderfully, his wife Baila insisted she stay by them in their home for a month until she could figure out where to go and what to do as their home thankfully only had some ceiling leaks and minor damage. Stories such as this one were repeated across the area in real time as people called family, friends and clergy asking for help and again because of social media groups such as WhatsApp the message was put out in real time to a large amount of people. 

Social Media and Crowd Sourcing to me... was the game changer. Often older people trapped in homes with their ceiling falling in on them or flooding rising into their homes feel panicked and don't know where to go ... other than trying 911 and waiting to be added to the list or they call their family.

This really begain in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew a man taking video with a drone led to the rescue of someone's brother who was watching in real time as flood waters were rising fast into his home.  During the 2017 Hurricane Season this style of self sacrifice and good will took that story to a much larger, wider level.

Amazingly a man and his dog were both saved.
Social Media being a game changer.

The victory of human nature over Mother Nature this past summer was one of the beautiful stories to come out of the tragic flooding in Harvey and the devastation across a wide area from Irma. Many places were hit hard this year and abroad from Puerto Rico to small islands few remember the name of are still reeling while we go about our every day life in America celebrating the coming of 2018. What will 2018 bring this Hurricane Season? It's safe to say more of the same ..... unless something major breaks the pattern of Mother Nature on a rampage. This year's epic Hurricane Season has given way to epic, record breaking cold temperatures as shelters and volunteers are racing to help those in need. Locally in Raleigh a volunteer group began giving out blankets and warm drinks to homeless people who didn't want to go into a shelter. You do what you can when you can to help who you can...

Sometimes it really does take a village to help save a life. It's one thing to watch the story on the Nightly News or CNN Live and another to get a personal request in your WhatsApp feed that a woman down the block from you is about to drown in flood waters in her 2nd floor apartment and needs help. It only takes a few moments in real time in a busy WhatsApp feed to figure out who has a boat, who can find a few strong men (in the case of Chabad ...ex Israeli soldiers) to get to her and get her out to safety fast. 

Crowd Sourcing + Civilian Volunteers.

So that's my thought on the 2017 Hurricane Season. People helping people, giving time and supplies when needed or giving a donation online. It only takes a minute... it only takes a bit of time. The world has changed so fast that I can send a child money on an App in my phone faster than than I can edit this blog post and yes sometimes I get presents for my birthday just as fast. Fast can be good sometimes .. especially when flood waters are rising or someone's roof just blew away or someone watching their Twitter Feed recognizes their brother's house going under water and contacts the person who tweeted to get to their brother fast.

Something to think on...

With prayers for a safe, happy 2018 for everyone reading this and a request to dress accordingly this New Year's Eve. Flip flops may be find in Miami but if you are in New York City... bundle up it's going to be an epic cold New Year's Eve.

Besos BobbiStorm

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