Public Lab Wiki documentation

Harvey Response

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A resources collecting page for Hurricane Harvey response; we are not an emergency service provider, but non-emergency questions, requests, inquiries, report-ins, offers of help or capacity are welcome. We are also maintaining a list of places to donate to.

What is this page?

The purpose of this page is to amplify requests emerging from local community organizations, especially those that work with communities that are bearing the burden of the storm more than others, and many of whom primarily coordinate over the phone or through Facebook groups. (See TEJAS report on disproportionate impacts of Harvey on low-income people of color) is the primary online hub for response efforts of the #ajustharveyrecovery coalition

If there are other efforts with similar aims, we don't want to duplicate or draw capacity away from them. Likewise, if other efforts are aimed at a different group (say, technologists, or professional crisis responders) and take a different approach, we want to do our best to interconnect with them, but also recognize that there may still be a need for this page.

Posting asks + offers

We are happy to feature report-ins from folks involved in Harvey response on this page -- you can post them here. If there are specific asks or offers, what works best is to break those out as concrete questions, such as:

  • we need help with X?
  • does anyone need X?

That way we can get people connected up, whether they want to pitch in or they have information you need -- Public Lab's network spans over 10k people.

Weekly Open Call

Public Lab hosts a weekly public call, and we are happy to offer this as a space for coordinating efforts and inquiries on Harvey response. Calls happen at 2pm CT / 3pm ET on Tuesdays

Call-in information is at: and

Please add your name and/or comments there, even if you can't join, and we'll do our best to connect the dots.

Notes from these calls will be listed here:

Requests for help

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


Please post questions (requests and/or asking if your offer of capacity is needed) relevant to Harvey here:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
We need help with garden testing after Harvey @Georgina over 6 years ago 2
Can NASA VIIRS data used for disaster maps? @marlokeno over 6 years ago 5
Can someone make a map to display NOAA Harvey imagery with coordinates and permalink? @warren over 6 years ago 23
Where are people compiling lists of potential pollution sites following Hurricane Harvey? @warren over 6 years ago 3
What are some sources of new aerial imagery of Harvey damages? @warren over 6 years ago 6
How do I identify an oil sheen or spill or slick in aerial photography? @warren over 6 years ago 1
How do I join a volunteer Disaster Response Team for flooding? @warren over 6 years ago 1
How do I share lots (gigabytes, or thousands) of photos online, cheaply and easily? @warren over 6 years ago 1
What is the best way to formalize connecting needs with offers? @bsugar over 6 years ago 4
Do Harvey response organizations need TDS or air monitoring equipment? @sarasage over 6 years ago 0
What could teenagers do to support Harvey response efforts? @warren over 6 years ago 3
How can the public find or make maps of the polluters next door? @marlokeno over 6 years ago 3
Is there a need for safely collecting aerial imagery post-Harvey? @warren over 6 years ago 0
What are soil sampling protocols being used by groups along the gulf coast? @stevie over 6 years ago 5

Project requests

  • From Scott Eustis at Gulf Restoration Network: We are going out on Sat. in Houston / Galveston area and also Corpus Christi to survey and see what needs further investigation. We'll be producing imagery (first from planes, later kite + balloon kits + drones) of affected areas and could use help processing it all. Also needs help analyzing satellite images. This project has now been listed as Harvey Images.

*Task: set up a photo processing workflow like Cartography Collective (an old Public Lab initiative)

  • Do screen captures of scanned Homeland Security images (100 ft), or download NOAA's imagery
    • LINKS?)
  • Look for sheen on water (spills) and report location/sheen color
  • Look for hazardous sites under water, as well as debris
    • same as above question! Needs posting on Questions
  • Use EPA reference sheet for prime locations on existing maps (prioritized on coasts)
    • where's the EPA reference sheet? Needs posting on Questions
  • Google spreadsheets suggested for coordinating/forms with links for screen caps of images
    • links?
  • Decide on type of labeling/criteria needed for these photos
  • Scott has aerial shots of Beaumont, but only had time to submit 5 reports (we may be able to help create the additional 20 or so that need to be done)
    • links? (asked Scott Eustis already)

    • Post facility points/polygons to and photos to

    • Crowdsource Help
      • Hold hackathons to input/examine photos (live or remote)
      • Use Zooniverse or platforms to speed identification/sorting process

Projects that are happening

Request: somehow integrate this data to reduce map data fragmentation

Project ideas

(Adapted from Sketch City's (see Groups) IrmaStart document's HOW TO START A NEW PROJECT)

  • First thing’s first: is someone already working on something similar? Try to see if your idea already exists, and if so, ask if they need your help. Many tools and guides have already been created to respond to crises in general. Can one of those be adapted? Then, check the list below and ask in our chatroom
  • Ask if your proposal or request fits with local groups' priorities, abilities, needs, and current trajectory
  • Create a short statement about your project, by editing this page and adding yours below, following the template provided

Add yours below following this project template:

  • Title
  • What problem are we trying to solve?
  • What help is needed at this time?
  • What are the next steps (validation, research, coding, design)?

Conduct post-storm water sampling & soil sampling

Record damage to people's houses to assist in getting insurance money → LFMA (Louisiana Floodplain Management Association) professionals have a volunteer Disaster Team that rushes in to measure flooding on homes for the NFIP by recording high water marks. Training course offered October 6 in Lake Charles, LA

Help organize this page

Help organize this content! We're drafting new content/revisions for this page on the Talk page, at


Please consider communities that are bearing the burden of the storm more than others!


Mapping projects