Philly scientists, devs and tech companies lend a hand to Hurricane Harvey victims - Philly


Sep. 1, 2017 12:47 pm

Philly scientists, devs and tech companies lend a hand to Hurricane Harvey victims

From air mattresses to lab space to dev projects, Philly's tech community is stepping up.

Members of the New Jersey National Guard, assist evacuees in Wharton, Texas.

(Photo by Flickr user The National Guard, used under a Creative Commons license)

As Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting rainfall pummeled cities and towns along the Texas coastline last week, Philly folks and business were already thinking about how to help those whose lives were upended.

At Old City software company WebLinc, a quick headcount was done: 164 employees. That’s the same number of air mattresses CEO Darren Hill donated to victims through the Austin Disaster Relief Network. “I’m fortunate to work for very generous and authentic people,” wrote comms lead John Forberger, who said the donation gave the team a morale boost in the face of the grim news out of Texas.

“The decision to send 164 air mattresses and place the order took 20 minutes,” Hill told “If we can improve the lives of people who are suffering by clicking smartphone buttons, we’ll do it. There was zero hesitation or bureaucracy. I’d much rather do something than talk about it.”

Hill also made a call to action to help those struck by the hurricane.

Around 10 Philly scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, Jefferson and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also pitched in their own way, joining a national database of available scientists to tend after research projects halted by the floods. They’ve made their contact information available in this spreadsheet.

“In some cases, there’s a very real possibility that students are going to be displaced, and people that aren’t going to be able to get back into labs for months, up to years, in the middle of working on a doctoral thesis or working on a project that has strong public health relevance,” Jefferson researcher Tim Mosca told the Washington Post. “We want to make sure they don’t lose that progress.”


An ongoing project from Code for Philly’s forum is also whipping together an interesting resource: A map of free or discounted housing from AirBnB and similar sites. The company has extended its initial program for free housing until September 25.

Lucinda Duncalfe’s Monetate is taking the donation-matching route to band together and help.

“An employee asked and we thought it was a way to feel we were contributing, as a group, to a cause that was also bringing people together,” Duncalfe told in a Twitter DM.

Is your company also helping? Tell us in the comments section below.

Companies: WebLinc
Projects: Code for Philly
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