On Thursday, Amber Gee evacuated her Callaway, Fla., home a day after Hurricane Michael made landfall. Callaway is just east of Panama City on the Florida Panhandle — an area that has been devastated by the storm and an area where many of Gee’s family members also live.
On Saturday, Gee was on Facebook where she found a link to NOAA’s interactive satellite map that could give her an idea of the damage. Gee began to look at aerial images of the destruction, when she made a serendipitous discovery.
“I was checking on damages in the area on houses that belong to my family and I came across my grandma’s house,” Gee told ABC News.
While Gee’s grandmother had also evacuated, there was there was a sign of trouble outside her house in rural Bay County — something that called Gee to action.
“They had the word H-E-L-P written out in the yard,” she told ABC News.
After finding the S.O.S., Gee contacted Bay County emergency services and sent them a picture of what she had found.
Bay County Emergency Services posted about the incident on their Facebook page at 2:38 a.m. on Sunday.
“This is an incredible story of how people are working together in this situation. Someone from another county was using the mapping app to check property in rural Bay County and noticed the word “help” spelled out in the grass in logs. That person immediately contacted us and sent the picture and we dispatched needed assistance. #850Strong #WorkingAllHours,” said the post, which Gee then commented on.
“I was the one of 2 who shared this picture with you. This is my grandmothers house any way you could tell me if the occupants were found and are safe now??????” she wrote.
“We dispatched deputies and I’m told all was well,” emergency services replied around 10 a.m.
“Bay County, Florida Emergency Services yes! Bay county was able to get to the house at 2 AM. All were safe!” Gee wrote back.
Apparently, Gee’s uncle, his wife and a friend had stayed put at Gee’s grandmother’s property in Youngstown, northeast of Panama City. Her uncle, Ernest Gee, used trees downed by the storm to create the message, she told ABC News.
Other commentators on the post were touched.
“This is Southern strong and Southern proud. Americans helping Americans. Way to go,” another Facebook user commented.