We’re in the middle of dealing with Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area right now, trying to coordinate aid and volunteers and housing and cleanup and repairs and food and a hundred other things. One tool that is making it easier for us is Nextdoor.com.
Nextdoor is like an online reflection of the physical community where you live. When you sign up, it notes your location, and allows you to connect with others in your immediate neighborhood and the surrounding area. Most people use it like a public bulletin board, posting items for sale, missing pets, safety alerts, business referrals, event notices and the like. It’s a really good tool to keep track of what’s going on in your neighborhood. I’ve written before how it can even help activists recruit help and rally people to cases needing attention.
This week, Nextdoor has outdone itself. It has been a valuable resource for those of us doing what we can to coordinate help and relief to families in our area who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. A sample of the kind of posts that have come across my feed tells you exactly how important this site can be, not only in everyday life, but in a crisis of massive proportions:
* a recommended electrician available to work on homes in the area
* neighbors offering to help pull carpet from soggy homes
* updates on which local stores have what staples in stock
* a recommended roof repair company
* advice on which subdivisions are still inaccessible
* shelter and donation updates
* free baby items
* notice of a road rage shooting incident
* road closures and best routes to get around
* coffee places open
* boil water notices
* reservoir release updates
* gas stations resupplied with gas
* school rescheduling notices
* volunteer requests
* people with boats offering to rescue neighbors
* meal preparation sign-up for feeding first responders
* filing FEMA claims
* notice and request for help for a pop-up day care
* offers to do laundry for affected people and the emergency personnel
* pictures of different streets’ water levels
* locations to pick up free ice and baby food
The list is endless, and as I write this, new posts are being added as new needs arise or new offers of help are made. And the best, the very best part of it is that these are people I can get to know, people I can meet, and work with as we try to get through the struggles ahead. Our community clubhouse is a donation staging location because someone on Nextdoor posted the idea and contacted the office to tell them of the interest she received about her post. Elderly people with water damage right here are being helped by people living just a few blocks away instead of having to rely on potential scammers and clever looters, because they asked for help on Nextdoor. Families needing housing help are finding out they have multiple options available, as folks pool the information they have in message threads.
People right where I live are being helped hourly, by other people right where I live. And much of it is due to this unsung hero, Nextdoor, which is connecting so many of us, and helping us coordinate the impossible.
I can’t recommend Nextdoor enough for everyday issues. But the value is skyrocketing in the middle of this crisis. Do yourself and your community a favor, and sign up and start helping those around you. Don’t wait until there’s another disaster; start making connections now, and see what your community can do together.