Floods from Tropical Storm Harvey are taking their toll on southeastern Texas. While much of the media attention has rightly focused on the metropolis of Houston, Harvey is also having a devastating impact on smaller communities, such as the towns of Port Arthur and Beaumont.
Twitter is proving to be an invaluable tool during this time, allowing people in need to call for help — and Good Samaritans online to amplify their voices. On Wednesday, the social media service was filled with a crowd-driven quest to help people in dire need.
Port Arthur, a city 91 miles from Houston, has been particularly hard hit by Tropical Storm Harvey. Then again, the devastation is by no means limited to that municipality.
That said, a large number of truly harrowing tweets are coming from Port Arthur. Not everyone on Twitter is posting them heroically; some are just in desperate need of help for themselves or their loved ones.
As Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman wrote on Facebook:
Part of our rescue team is now fighting an apartment fire and rescuing folks from the complex. And the lightning has slowed up some rescues, but they have NOT stopped.
Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming! If you called, we are coming. Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try stay out of attics.
Mayor Becky Ames of Beaumont told NBC that "every single body of water around us is at capacity and overflowing and the rain is still coming down."
Say what you will about Twitter — its oft-negligent attitude toward harassment, the maddening way it reduces complex arguments to 140 characters, the rise of Donald J. Trump – but when its users decide to be forced for good, the results can be both inspiring and genuinely useful.