As Florida braces for Hurricane Irma's potential impact, many there are looking to Houston and lessons learned from Harvey. The founders behind one of Houston's biggest rescue networks are working to recreate what worked there to fight back against Irma.
In the first days of Hurricane Harvey, everyone was a first responder, and Matthew Marchetti’s first response is to code.
“We need to get this online as quick as possible,” Marchetti said.
Within three hours, he and a partner launched Houston Harvey Rescue, an online database and map of people in need of rescue, and volunteers with boats and determination.
It started small, until the Cajun Navy shared the site.
“We had about 10,000 shares and we jumped up to 3,700 requests for rescues Monday morning,” Marchetti said. “All of a sudden people are looking at the site saying, I’m five minutes from there, I’m going to go grab this person from the roof or I’m going to go there and get this pregnant woman.”
They helped coordinate close to 8,000 rescues. But co-founder Oliver Carter new it couldn’t end there.
“We’re gonna unite and share resources and information to try to rebuild Houston as effectively as possible,” Carter said.
They’re partnering with 15 of the biggest churches in the Houston area to connect truck-loads of donations with the people fighting to recover.
"All across the city, people need information," said Marchetti.
Across the country too. The partners just launched a new site: Florida Irma Rescue.
"An effort for volunteers to mobilize before the government’s able to get there," said Carter.
They pray it won't be needed. But with another massive storm bearing down, Texans are sending their best wishes, ideas and lessons for the next mission.
"A much better Irma rescue and more lives saved," said Marchetti.
Hurricane Harvey Rescue has more than 10,000 volunteer rescuers signed up, many of whom are already headed to Florida.
For more information on how to help in florida, click HERE.
To continue helping with recovery efforts in Houston, click HERE or contact Marchetti at firstname.lastname@example.org.