With Hurricane Florence whipping the North Carolina coast and promising to deliver more damage across the state and into South Carolina, many people could find themselves needing rescue from rising waters or dangerous situations.
There’s now an app for that.
During Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston area in 2017, friends Matthew Marchetti, Nate Larson, and Oliver Carter created CrowdSource Rescue, The Washington Post reported. The site allows those in need of rescue to connect with individuals looking to help.
“Neighbors rescuing neighbors” is how the site describes itself. The site says it uses “next-generation technology to quickly connect both professional first-responders and vetted volunteers with response, relief and recovery cases.” During Harvey, the site connected 35,000 people in need of help with 12,000 professional or volunteer rescuers, it said.
The map-based app allows rescuers to see those in need of help nearby. It allows them to enter their location, cell phone numbers, and whether they have children or pets that needs assistance, all useful information for rescuers.
The group said it has 13,513 rescuers and volunteers, including 780 certified first-responders, and has helped 37,556 survivors during eight incidents since its inception.
The site was originally called Houston Harvey Rescue, according to KHOU, but it was used during Hurricanes Irma and Maria and now is already being used by some during Florence. As of Thursday evening, 32 people along the Carolinas coast had already placed tickets with the site, seeking help.
“We are not necessarily a traditional response agency. We empower people who are already doing great things,” Marchetti told the Arizona Republic. “Ultimately, it comes down to there being this spirit of volunteerism.”
CrowdSource Rescue said that during the first 72 hours following a disaster, civilian volunteers are often the first ones on the scene with water and other supplies.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long, who grew up in Newton, N.C., said the country needs to build a culture of preparedness. In remarks to the House Homeland Security Committee, Long seemed to endorse programs exactly like CrowdSource Rescue.
“FEMA is just one part of the team. During a disaster, citizens in the impacted communities also become the “first responders.” We need to empower individuals with life skills to help speed the response and recovery efforts,” he said in a prepared statement to the committee.
The site can also be used by professionals from local, state and federal offices who are on hand to help with rescue and recovery efforts.
Quartz called the site “one of the first open-sourced rescue missions in the U.S., and could be a valuable blueprint for future disaster volunteers.”