These people and companies went above and beyond to get help for victims.
Tropical Storm Harvey has ravaged through southeast Texas for the past week, submerging inland areas of the state in dozens of feet of water from continuous rains and a lack of infrastructure to support the major flooding taking place. While the death toll has risen to 30 and shelters for both animals and humans have become overcrowded with those seeking refuge, there are still aid workers outside working diligently to rescue as many people and animals as possible.
These rescuers come in many forms, whether that’s through popular websites like Airbnb or airlines like Southwest, but they all share the same goal: to save victims from the torrential downpour and prevent the death toll from rising. Here are 5 ways that people are aiding victims in the best way they can.
5. KHOU Reporter Helps Rescue Truck Driver At The Last Moment
While some have chastised reporters and news crews for merely standing by while people clearly needing help walk by, one reporter from local station KHOU 11, Brandi Smith, helped to secure a rescue for a truck driver stuck in water. It’s unclear how long the truck driver had been sitting there, but it seems that he and his big rig were submerged in nearly 16 feet of water by the time Smith noticed him and flagged down a sheriff with a boat.
Though it may seem as if it would be easy for the truck driver to merely get out of the truck and swim to safety, the current of the flood is much stronger than it looks and getting out of the truck to swim could have lead to his death. In fact, when Smith flagged down the sheriffs, who were headed somewhere else and would have passed up the truck driver, the rescuer said that last year a driver was stuck in the exact same predicament and wound up drowning. Thanks to Smith, this driver did not face the same fate.
4. Beer Company Stopped Brewing Beer So It Could Send Out Emergency Canned Water
The beer company Anheuser-Busch temporarily stopped brewing beer so that it could provide canned drinking water to victims in this emergency situation. The company has already shipped 50,000 cans to Red Cross Centers and evacuation points in Louisiana, where the storm has migrated to.
“Throughout the year, we periodically pause beer production at our Cartersville, Georgia brewery to produce emergency canned drinking water so we are ready to help out communities across the country in times of crisis. Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations,” brewmaster Sarah Schilling said in a statement, according to FOX 5 News.
3. Social Media Users Helped Alert Rescuers To Dire Situation At A Nursing Home
When storms hit and people are alerted in advance of this situation, most are able to evacuate in a timely manner before they are unable to flee. For some, however, evacuating is easier said than done and that’s how 18 senior citizens found themselves in waist-deep water with no signs of rescue on the way. The residents had been told not to evacuate since the home had never succumb to flooding, but the building was no match for Hurricane Harvey.
The photo was originally sent to Timothy McIntosh from mother-in-law Trudy Lampson, the owner of the nursing home. She said that despite the dire situation they were in and several calls for help, no one appeared to be arriving to save them.
Within hours of McIntosh posting the photo on Twitter, the photo was shared thousands of times and it’s viral nature captured the attention of the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management, who sent boats and helicopters to rescue the seniors. Most of them were in wheelchairs or needed oxygen tanks, making evacuation without aid impossible.
2. Southwest Airlines Rescued Hundreds Of Evacuees For Free
While there’s still a major argument to be made in favor of airlines gouging their prices while increasing the seating in their aircraft, Southwest Airlines did the right thing in this emergency situation and provided transportation for evacuees this past week. Houston Hobby Airport had closed the airport to all non-emergency aircraft on Sunday, leaving hundreds stranded, but Southwest received special clearance from the FAA to rescue evacuees. They were able to load up 5 Boeing 575s with over 500 victims and took them to Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport.
1. Airbnb Is Allowing Users To Offer Their House To Evacuees For Free
Airbnb changed their rules in service in order to allow nearby but safe residents in Texas to offer their homes for free on the site. Normally there is a required fee associated with each booking, meaning each user must charge a certain price so that Airbnb can make money off of it, but they have allowed that “price” to be placed at $0 for those extending their homes to victims.
This isn’t the first time that the site has changed their rules of service to benefit victims of tragedies; in the past, they have waived their service fees for Hurricane Matthew evacuees, refugees fleeing Syria, and those displaced by the Barcelona attacks.