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Here’s How Twitter and Text Messaging Saved a Woman’s Life During Hurricane Irma

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As hurricane Irma knocked out power in the southern states, many residents gave status updates via text messages and Facebook posts. Some even turned to the power of social media to get the help they couldn’t get by calling 911. Here’s one of the stories of a rescue that begins with a simple text.

CNN chronicled the the plight of Kristina Barneski, who lives in Daytona Beach, Florida. Irma was rolling up the Gulf coast of the state, but the storm was wide enough that it was stretching over to the Atlantic side. And the rains and storm surge were causing flooding.

In Barneski’s first floor apartment, the water was already at her knees.  She’d tried to get herself free, but she couldn’t get her front door open. Outside, water was already up to her windows. Breaking a window would flood the whole apartment.

She’d called 911, but they told her that rescue workers wouldn’t be allowed out until the morning.

“My apartment flooded its [sic] so bad,” she texted a friend in California. Hannah Brown had recently moved to San Jose, California. When she saw the texts, she tried to be reassuring.

“Yea I’m drown first,” Barneski replied.

“I can’t open the door to get out,” Barneski wrote.

So Brown took to Facebook. She messaged friends in the area, but no one could go.
“They can’t come out curfew you will go to jail,” Barneski wrote.

Brown then tried Twitter. “PLEASE HELP,” she pleaded.

“You might get a call or text from a stranger wanting to come help you out tho so make sure you answer if it’s an unknown number,” she told Barneski.

“She can’t break out,” Brown wrote.

“GOD it’s unbelievably frustrating to be in California while all my friends are home in Florida and Georgia, trying to survive this storm.”

“You gotta stay up on top of the furniture out of the water if you’re not already,” Brown texted.
“I know I’m on my bed and will go to my counter top if I have to,” Barneski replied.

“They got me,” she wrote.

“Omg they’re there?!”

“Some team got me”

“YESSSSS”

And they’d come. Barneski grabbed what she could, above, and was taken to a shelter and is safe.

The Daytona Beach Fire Department had seen the messages. “We were able to rescue your friend,” their tweet said.

“Talk about the power of social media,” Barneski said.