English Spanish


Fasteners • Electronic Hardware • Design Solutions

Press Room

How Technology is Helping the Victims of Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey recently ravaged the Houston area with the greatest rainfall ever measured in the continental United states. Experts expect the storm’s damage to cost the U.S. economy at least $190 billion dollars, more than both Sandy and Katrina combined. Technology is playing a major role in helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey by providing expedited emergency services, plentiful donations, safety check-ins and healthcare services for those affected.

The Online Community Aiding Emergency Services

While it’s always important to contact 911 emergency services during these events, these services can quickly become overwhelmed during situations like Hurricane Harvey. Social media, however, is not held back by the procedures and limited personnel that restricts traditional 911 response services when too many people call in. Hurricane Harvey has prompted many individuals to seek out help from the online community when unable to get through to emergency services. Steve Wymer, the Vice President of Communications and Policy of Nextdoor, told NPR that his popular neighborhood site is usually used for advertisement and handyman services. Recently, a few posters have requested emergency rescues and have been successfully rescued. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other social media platforms have also been pivotal in coordinating specific rescue missions. Even public officials and police officers have turned to social media because they are unable to respond to every request. On Sunday, Sheriff Ed Gonzales requested assistance for a woman in labor during the hurricane. Thankfully, the woman was able to receive assistance when the message spread across Twitter.

Text Messaging and Online Stores Make Donating Easy

Times of crisis always bring in donations from around the country, but the use of the internet and other technology has increased both the total donation amounts and the ease of donating. One of the easiest ways to make a quick donation to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey disaster relief fund is to text HARVEY to 90999. This will automatically donate $10 to the cause, and the charge will appear on your wireless bill. Google has already successfully collected over $2 million in donations and matched its own $1 million donation to relief efforts. Tech giant Amazon has also created a special donation page and promised to match up to $1 million dollars in donations. Similarly, Apple has created links to donate directly to Red Cross though your connected iTunes account. Several companies, such as Western Union and Airbnb, are waiving fees and adjusting rules to allow free money transfers and stays in the Texas area.

Safety Check-Ins

The most popular social media platform, Facebook, offers a unique Safety Check tool that helps loved ones stay informed about the well-being of their friends and family during emergencies. When enough people report a crisis of Facebook, the Safety Check feature is activated. This tool identifies users in affected areas and prompts them to mark themselves “safe” though the website. The nation’s top wireless providers Verizon and AT&T are contributing to victim relief efforts by waiving fees for those customers in affected areas. This seemingly small act has allowed hundreds of individuals to stay in contact with their loved ones through this difficult time. Verizon relieved some customers of call and data charges, gave out an additional 3GB of data through September 15 and pledged an incredible $10 million to the cause. AT&T also offered some credits to customers, waived charges in the Houston area and donated $350,000 to various local communities.

Doctor On Demand Healthcare Services

Mobile healthcare services are arguably one of the most incredible disaster support relief efforts that technology has brought to victims. Doctor on Demand’s amazing services allow individuals to connect with a doctor from their phone, tablet or computer at any time. Similar to traditional doctor’s visits, your physician will analyze individual health records, may recommend treatment and can prescribe medications or lab work. Doctor on Demand is making their services available for anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey free until September 8th. This revolutionary method isn’t affected by flooding, office closures or road blocks. It prevents people from traversing through dangerous weather conditions for healthcare needs and helps affected victims receive the assistance they need quickly.

This natural disaster of epic proportions will potentially be followed by Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida. Today’s technology is providing society with an unprecedented solution to unprecedented weather conditions. Technology is playing a major role in helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey by providing expedited emergency services, plentiful donations, safety check-ins and healthcare services for those affected. Future disaster response teams should take note of this model and continue to strengthen the role of technology in victim relief programs.