In recent decades, the growing answer to any and all problems is government intervention. While there is a time and a place in regards to various responses, there are limitations to government. When government does not recognize these boundaries and tries to outdo itself, it becomes wildly inefficient. In these instances, what should private individuals do when their fellow citizens are facing disaster?
Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma has tested the limits of human ability, just as Hurricane Jose will. While media outlets, political pundits and internet warriors wage a political battle about climate change, there are private citizens on the ground in Texas currently saving lives.
The Houston Chronicle featured a story about the Cajun Navy, a volunteer force currently rescuing people via boat while being coordinated by volunteers in their homes. It’s an incredible story that everyone should be aware of, because it shows that we can be empowered in disaster instead of waiting to be saved.
The premise is simple, but the effort is incredible.
In a society where most individuals now own smartphones, we have an ability to do a great deal of things on our phones. We can talk, text, message, watch the news, listen to radio, play games, and so on. It’s a great device for research and leisure, but the potential for saving lives is now being fully realized.
Zello is a walkie-talkie type application available on several platforms. A lightweight and fast program, it enables quick communication among individuals. As the Chronicle notes, it has been used by volunteers and victims alike to coordinate and facilitate rescue efforts.
Many people who are helping don’t have the training of a first responder or law enforcement, but simply have the goodwill to sacrifice their time and effort to save other human beings.
Another article in the Chronicle discusses other social media applications helping in natural disasters. One application is called Nextdoor, which is designed to facilitate easy communication among neighbors. This has helped neighborhoods come together through disasters and save each other.
Even everyday social media such as Facebook or Twitter can be helpful for facilitating communication.
As these disasters persist, the destruction will be certain to harm many more individuals. There is nothing we can do about that, but the question here will be how people respond. Unfortunately through these instances, there will be crime and looting. There will be death and there will be destruction.
But there is a lesson to be learned from the brave volunteers in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Technology has been a great enabler of human ability by fostering innovation. While we often hear of the bad news out of these disasters and the negative effects of technology itself, these stories such as the one in the Houston Chronicle deserve to be told.
Most importantly, those bracing for imminent disaster should prepare themselves by reading these stories and utilizing these modern tools to mitigate complications. Private citizens using applications developed through the marketplace can help save each other instead of waiting to be saved. Stay safe, be smart, and stand strong through these tragedies.