SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — As Hurricane Irma began slamming Daytona Beach late Sunday night, Hannah Brown was in San Jose 3,000 miles away. But she began to receive text messages from her old hometown friend Kristina Barneski, urgent messages that the water was rising dangerously high inside her apartment.
Hannah recounted the incident, “I said, ‘can you get to a higher apartment with your neighbors or something?’ She said, ‘Nope, I can’t get the door open because of the water. And I said, ‘all right … it’s a long shot, but do you have an axe or something else heavy you can swing to break the door?’ She didn’t have anything like that.”
Hannah did her best to calm Kristina, who is disabled, then decided to create a social media storm of her own tweets and retweets. She was determined to get her friend rescued.
“I was just like, locked into my phone like, staring, tweeting everyone as fast as possible and just getting the message out on Facebook and Twitter. Just anybody who could possibly go there and help her get out.”
Kristina herself was on Facebook Live also sending out pleas for help. Eventually, rescuers arrived.
Hannah said, “She texted me and all she said was, ‘They got me!’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God … are they there?’ And she said ‘Some team came and got me’ and I was just ‘Oh my God’ I cried. I was just so relieved.”
The Daytona Beach tweeted to Hannah: “We were able to rescue your friend,” an indication that Hannah’s social media rescue effort had paid off.
“At first I thought it was just somebody rescuing people, but then I realized, that’s them letting me know that they saw my tweet and they’re actually replying to it. And that just blew me away,” Hannah said.
Kristina told KPIX 5 that she is grateful, but she is still in need. She has nothing but the few bags she was able to carry out. Her house, her car, everything else is gone. Hannah has set up a Gofundme page to help her friend.
“You know, everything was destroyed and she doesn’t have a lot of help, so we need to show the real power of Twitter I guess, again now and help her out if we can,” Hannah said.