The Associated Press joined a crew of firefighters from South Florida as they rescued residents of Port Arthur, Texas from torrential floodwaters. Harvey flooded the Texas-Louisiana state line region on Wednesday. (Aug. 31)
In the chaos and terror of the Texas flooding, getting to safety is first on anyoneâs list. But once out of harmâs way, a working cell phone is crucial to modern life â and sometimes difficult to come by given that delicate electronics and water donât mix.
To help people get up and running again, cell-phone drying companies are offering free services and setting up mobile charging stations. One firm drove a truck 1,000 miles from DenverÂ to Houston, a roughly 15-hour overnight sprint, to help bring dead phones back to life.
âI feel like my headâs back on my shoulders,â said Bernard Scott, 56, whoseÂ phone was dried out by staff from TekDry, the Denver, Colo. company that’sÂ working out of a truck parked next to Houstonâs George R. Brown convention center, offering free services. âMy phoneâs got everything, my emails, my Instagram, my family contacts. Everything.â
Without a phone, those affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath can easily drop entirely off the digital map. Smart phones are increasingly how Americans access the digital world. A survey by the Pew Research Center late last year found that for 12% of American adults, their smartphone was their only access to the Internet.