Photos with pleas for help in finding the missing from Hurricane Harvey are being posted, cut-and-pasted and retweeted by thousands of people as desperate family members seek loved ones who they fear might be dead, but may only have a dead phone.
No official number of the unaccounted-for had been released Tuesday night amid the vast uncertainty of the storm’s fourth day, with authorities saying the 18 deaths confirmed so far could surge in the days to come.
Pictures and pleas for dozens of toddlers, brothers and grandfathers are circulating on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The posts appeared to be getting results, though not always good news.
“Pleaseeeee,” read the Instagram posting seeking 8-month-old Paige Booth, showing the baby sitting on a couch with a pacifier.
Her mother and grandmother were evacuating from their Houston home Monday and holding her above their heads as the water rose to their chests and a current pushed them along.
“It was raining bad, and the water was high,” the mother, Bajauh Henix, said.
They handed the baby off to a police officer on a personal watercraft, who took the infant to higher ground and handed her to a family in a black pick-up truck, said Kennesha Grand, the girl’s grandmother.
But when Grand and Henix reached the area where the child was supposed to be, no one there knew her whereabouts.
Once they reached a shelter, they posted photos of the baby on Instagram and elsewhere. “Everyone started posting, and it started spreading,” Grand said.
After nearly four hours, the mother got a phone call from a family. They had Paige, who was returned by a police officer, completely unfazed by the ordeal.
“She was sweet. She was dry. She was fed,” Grand said. “She didn’t miss us.”
Another search that took hold on social media lasted far longer, and it lacked the happy ending.
Ruben Jordan, 58, a former football and track coach from a Houston-area high school, had been sought since he disappeared on Saturday night.
“Please help,” the digital flier linked on Facebook and Twitter posts said. “His family is desperately awaiting any information … He was helping rescue people from high water when last seen.”
People who spread the post praised the coach.
“Coach Jordan … had a tremendous positive impact on my twin sons,” Lee Jackson, an Austin writer, said when sharing the post, “he still keeps up with them. They love him.”
But after 48 hours of searching, his two adult children and the rest of his family learned from the Friendswood police…