Online Communities Coming Together for Hurricane Harvey #hcldrHOU

Over the past week the news and social media has been dominated by stories of hurricane Harvey that slammed into southern Texas and Louisiana. High winds and storm surges hit the coastal areas hard, but the real devastation was caused by the heavy rain that blanketed the area for 5 days. Over 50-inches (approximately 135cm) of rain fell in some areas. To put that in perspective Vox put together this amazing graphic.

From Saturday until Tuesday, the metropolis of Houston was in the eye of the storm. Houston is the 4th largest city in the United State (only Los Angeles, New York and arguably Chicago are larger) and is home to more than 2.4 Million people.

Hurricane Harvey has hit close to home for us here at #hcldr – literally. Our friend and #hcldr co-host Joe Babaian lives in a suburb of Houston. For 5 harrowing days he has watched the waters around his neighborhood rise higher and higher. It engulfed the school where that his children attend and many of his friends’ homes had water up to their roof-lines. Luckily Joe’s street was spared. He and his family are thankfully dry and safe. Here are some of the photos and a video he posted to social media:

 

Joe is not the only member of the #hcldr community affected by Harvey. Bonnie SheerenMichael Gonzalez MD, Elizabeth Kelly and Nadia Morris are also in Houston. Bob Blount lives in nearby Austin, which suffered only minor flooding from Harvey, but has family in Houston. Our hearts and thought go out to Joe, Bonnie, Michael, Bob and all the others impacted by the flooding.

One of the things that makes #hcldr special is how tight our community is. I truly feel connected to the people who participate in the weekly #hcldr chat and to those that post tweets using the hashtag during the week. I felt helpless as I watched the news unfold and I was genuinely worried about my friend Joe as he DM me hourly updates on the water levels around his home.

After speaking with both Joe and Bob, we came up with a way for the community to help. We agreed to use social media to encourage members of the various online healthcare communities to donate to the charities that are helping victims of hurricane Harvey. Rather than pick a charity, we simply asked people to choose any one of the organizations that were appealing for help. The only request: that people either tweet out their donation with the #hcldrHOU hashtag or DM/Message/email me with their donation amount so that we could track it.

We have set a goal to raise $5,000 from members of online healthcare communities – #hcldr #HITsm #HITMC #HealthITChicks #HTreads and #pinksocks

PLEASE HELP US REACH OUR DONATION GOAL. Every donation helps. Even $10 to the Red Cross is appreciated.

Below is a list of charities that have set up special Harvey funds. Many on this list are from a post by NPR and from Mandi Bishop, Regina Holliday and Linda Stotsky:

These are just some of the charities helping after Hurricane Harvey. Please donate to any charity that resonates with you.

When the hurricane hit, several people within our own #hcldr community jumped right in with offers to help in any way possible. People like Jon McBride volunteered to purchase generators from his local Home Depot and drive them to Houston from his home in Florida. Mark Milligan offered to house anyone who wanted to escape down to Austin. Bob Blount made plans to head to Houston once the rain stopped to help directly. Just amazing.

There is also one person that deserves a special mention. Zac Jiwa, the CEO of MI7 – a company that helps connect apps to EHRs, hopped into his friend Nick Decorte‘s unimog (pictured below) and drove at 40mph from Austin to Houston on Saturday while the Hurricane was howling around them. They have helped rescue dozens of stranded Houston residents and brought them safely to shelters. Their friend Tracee Beebe is serving as their dispatcher. You can follow their story on Tracee and Zac‘s Facebook Page. Hats off to you Zac, Nick and Tracee for being heroes.

[Update August 30th]

So far we have raised just over $1,500 in our first day of the #hcldrHOU campaign. Thank you to those that have donated:

PLEASE DM, FB Message or email me if you have donated!

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