Colby student helps hurricane victims one text at a time

One text to help hurricane victims

WATERVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – A Colby College student returned to school this weekend, leaving behind his home in flooded Houston and a program that has helped save lives.

"It was kind of crazy. You know?" Nile Dixon said.

19-year-old Dixon created a text bot program that he said has helped thousands find shelter in the midst of one of his home city’s darkest time.

"I was on Facebook and I would see the local news circulate a list of shelters—and I was like ‘That's cool but what if I didn't have internet?’” he said.

In partnership with a Texas nonprofit, Sketch City, Dixon generated a program designed to help Houston residents find their nearest shelter with a simple text.

"You text your zip code to 316-214-0739 and then it will send you the nearest shelter and its location,” he said.

Now nearly 2,000 miles away for the start of his sophomore year at Colby College he said leaving his family and friends behind was not easy.

"It'd kind of like this frustrating thing where it's like I'm kind of like leaving a problem that I should be helping fix,” Dixon said.

While Dixon is incredibly humble, he found the response from people on Facebook who took advantage of the service rewarding.

"They were like ‘Wow it works. Thank you for helping me. I was pretty sure there was a shelter closer to me.’ And that was reassuring,” he said.

That positive spirit is what he believes will carry his city through.

"Houston can definitely come back from something like this,” Dixon said.

As Hurricane Irma makes it way towards Florida, Dixon said he and his team are working to translate the service to work for victims there.

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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