Hurricane Dorian: People using social media to try to find missing loved ones in Bahamas

People desperate for word of loved ones in the Bahamas who were in the path of Hurricane Dorian are turning to social media for help.

The islands were slammed for 48 hours by Dorian, a Category 5 storm at landfall that brought 185 mph winds and a storm surge of at least 20 feet. Photos from the islands show massive destruction, with homes missing or demolished, coastal areas flooded hundreds of yards inland, boats in trees and train cars tossed on their sides.

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Trying to find loved ones who stayed on the islands is difficult at best, so more people are looking for relatives and friends using Facebook, Twitter and other modes of social media to help find those whom they cannot get in touch with.

Several Facebook groups that started last week to provide information about deteriorating weather conditions morphed into pages that are dedicated to finding and sharing information on people cut off from communication by the storm.

People are using one group, Abaco Search | Hurricane Dorian, to ask for help in locating family and post photos of their loved ones. The group is concentrated on the search for people in the Abaco Islands, in the northern Bahamas. The Abaco Islands were particularly hard hit by Dorian.

While most posts are inquiries or requests for information, the group has also posted some successes.

“DAVID FERRAR IS SAFE !!!,” one post read. “I have just received a very brief, shaky, hard to hear, call from David using someone's sat phone. He has just been pulled out of … Royal Palm on the Marina. He said there are a lot of people there, all safe (sorry no names) and all waiting to be airlifted off the island. He didn't know where to or when. Even his cat was rescued with him! I hope this gives hope to others with relatives in that area. Will now pray for everyone else.”

Because of the number of people listing names of missing loved ones, Abaco Search | Hurricane Dorian organizers created a website, Dorian People Search Bahamas, which features a list of hundreds of names of people who family members and friends are trying to connect with. Some of the names on the list have information about the missing person, some are simply the names and locations of where the person was last known to be.

Some are posting tweets in an effort to get names and photos of loved ones out.

The tweets follow the same script as people ask for any information on missing loved ones.

Some monitored the storm via a WhatsApp internet messaging service which has also become a place to try to find family and friends.

“My uncle Rex McIntosh is still missing. Nobody has heard from him,” said Lamara Davis, who was born in the Bahamas and now lives in West Palm Beach. “The roof blew off his apartment. The roof blew off of most places, including the school,” Davis said of the information she learned from WhatsApp.

In addition to crowdsourcing information on social media outlets, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of the Bahamas has created an online form to track missing people.

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