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29 August 2017

People are using Snapchat to track damage from Harvey

Image: screen grabs/snapchat

Snapchat is turning out to be a major resource for people trying to keep tabs on what’s happening on the ground in Houston.

Snapchat users are turning to Snap Maps to keep tabs on flooding and other damage across Houston neighborhoods in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Introduced earlier this year, Snapchat’s Snap Maps overlays publicly-posted Snaps onto a map so others can view what’s happening in other cities. 

As the damage from Harvey, which is now categorized as a tropical storm, continues to unfold, the feature is becoming an important way for people to keep tabs on what’s happening in different parts of the city.

“Its [sic] been really helpful seeing what the rest of my town looks like,” wrote one Reddit user on a thread encouraging Houston residents to use Snap Maps to check how different neighborhoods were faring.

Others said they used the feature to check on their homes and those of friends and family. 

“By checking the snaps we know the water hasn’t come into the first floor,” wrote one poster, who said he hasn’t been able to check on his house since the floods started. “Such peace of mind for now.”

“I’ve been worried about not hearing from my best friend in hours. According to the map, it seems like she’s okay,” wrote another.

Snap Maps is also proving to be a powerful tool for those outside of the Houston area, providing an unfiltered, up-close, look at how the city is being impacted by the storm and subsequent flooding. 

Somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 Snaps were submitted to Harvey-related Our Stories between Thursday morning and Sunday evening, according to a Snapchat spokesperson. All that amounts to an extremely detailed look at what’s happening on the ground across the sprawling city.

Image: screen grab/snapchat

By swiping around the Houston area on Snapchat’s map, you can zoom into different neighborhoods to get an up-close look at how the storm has impacted people over the last 24 hours. 

Snapchatters are using the tool to document flooding locations, rescues, and rain-soaked roads, as well as more light-hearted moments showing teens playing in flooded streets and how they’re passing the extended time indoors.

Image: screen grab/snapchat

In addition to what’s on Snap Maps, Snapchat also rolled out one of its curated news-style Stories highlighting the effects of Harvey on Sunday. The company added a new donation feature to the Story as well so Snapchat users could donate to relief efforts directly from the Story by swiping up on individual Snaps.

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