A drone operator and the power of social media helped a man in Texas to save his brother from his flooded house 1,300 miles away in North Carolina on Sunday.
Navy veteran Chris Williams became stranded inside his Hope Mills home with his dog Lana, who can’t swim, on Saturday after Hurricane Matthew barreled through the area.
“There was water just pouring into his house, and so my parents get this text from him, and I think he literally said like ‘I’m almost drowning,’” his brother Craig Williams told NBC-affiliate KXAN.
The Austin resident tried calling emergency services in Chris Williams’ county to ask them to help his sibling, who was unable to swim to safety due to injuries he’d sustained in Afghanistan. But he couldn’t get through.
Craig Williams was scrolling through the #HopeMills hashtag on Twitter Sunday and found the below picture of a flooded street. Drone operator Quavas Hart had posted it just an hour earlier to Instagram, which is linked to his Twitter account:
Thinking it may lighten his stranded brother’s mood, Craig Williams sent him the snap via Facebook Messenger and joked that at least it wasn’t his home.
But then his brother replied that it was actually his house on the right of the image. Craig Williams then tweeted Hart to ask for help:
Although Hart didn’t have a boat, he did manage to flag down a Federal Emergency Management Agency vessel, which later rescued Chris Williams and Lana from the property after 14 hours of confinement.
With his brother now homeless, Craig Williams has set up a GoFundMe page to help get him back on his feet.
“The damage to his house is extensive,” he said. “He lost all his clothing, all his furniture, all his electronic gear. I can’t imagine recovering from such tragedy.”
Craig Williams believes repairing his brother’s house will cost at least $40,000. “If we can just put a dent in that I think it’s great,” he told the New York Daily News.