LAKEWAY, Texas (KXAN) — When McCall McPherson and her husband Casey heard about all the flooding in Houston, they wanted to help. Casey decided he and a friend would drive a boat down south and try to rescue stranded Hurricane Harvey survivors. But McCall wondered how she could help while still caring for her two toddlers at home.
“I created a way to connect rescuers to people in need because my husband was about to be a rescuer and I had no idea where to send him,” said McCall.
McCall created an interactive map online for flood victims to pin their location if they needed help. She then linked that map to a Facebook page to communicate with people about the rescues, getting locations and phone numbers. “We’re in real-time, so it’s [posts like] ‘family holding three babies above their head, water up to neck.’ And you’re telling [rescuers] get there, get there, get there,” explains McCall.
A few friends and thousands of strangers started acting as dispatchers, connecting victims with rescuers, including the Coast Guard and self-proclaimed “Cajun Navy.” The page that started with McCall and two other people, now has more than 2,300 members.
“Because of technology and social media, to help people in these situations, you don’t have to be on the ground,” explains McCall.
During the first night of helping Casey dispatch, he and two other people rescued 100 people. Over the last few days, McCall says thousands more have been rescued by dozens of other people using her map.
Casey keeps postponing his trip home. As long as McCall keeps posting rescue locations, he and hundreds of others will answer the call.
McCall and Casey are also organizing a fundraiser at Parlor and Yard in Austin on Sept. 23. The band Alpha Rev, which Casey is a part of, will be performing. Donations will benefit families affected by the flood. An exact time has not been set, but McCall says it will likely start late afternoon or early evening.