Houston 911 Call Problems, No 3rd-Party Calls: Stranded Folks Beg For Help On Twitter, Facebook As Phones Die

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, people are turning to social media in Houston and begging for help. Reports of 911 calls in Houston not going through are being reported on Twitter, and certain folks are desperate to be rescued as reports of rising water, no food, no clean water, and other scary situations are showing up with reports of 2 percent or 4 percent battery left on dying cell phones.

For example, Evelyn Santiago wrote on Twitter that her 8-week-old son was turning blue and not breathing. Santiago pleaded for help as she wrote that she had only 2 percent of her phone’s battery left and no family in the area. The Twitter account named Harvey Flood Rescue, which lists the fact that it is “NOT EMERGENCY SERVICES,” but a “Remote volunteer logging requests for rescues seen on social media,” added Evelyn’s name to a Google Docs spreadsheet with 400 lines of addresses of people that need rescuing or have been rescued thus far.

Searching for tweets coming from 35 miles surrounding the Houston area with the wording “911” in them results in plenty of people reporting that 911 isn’t answering, or that they are not accepting third-party calls for help from people trying to call for others whose phones have died. According to the NWS Houston Twitter account, which is the official Twitter account for the National Weather Service for the Houston/Galveston area, people should call 911 for emergencies and remain on the line no matter how long it takes them to answer.

“They should call 911 and stay on the line until they answer. If you hang up and call again, you lose your spot in line.”

The Coast Guard is conducting a search and rescue, with the U.S. Coast Guard Houston Command Center taking calls at 281-464-4851, according to KHOU.

The problems with 911 have occurred because operators have been overwhelmed with calls, getting 56,000 calls in less than 24 hours, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Searching for the word “boat” on Twitter in the Houston area results in tweets from people who are begging for boat rescues and those who are offering their boats to be used in the rescue efforts.


As seen in the below tweet from the Houston police, authorities called for those with a boat who could volunteer to help rescue folks to call them at the below number.


Stories of rescues are joining those who are turning to social media for help.


On Facebook, the Houston Area Off-Road Recovery Chat Group is getting plenty of comments and pleas for help.


[Featured Image by LM Otero/AP Images]