Facebook Helps Families Find Loved Ones After Fires

Desperate to find her mother after hearing her say “I’m going to die” over the phone as her mobile home caught fire, Jessica Tunis thought she should put her mom’s name and picture on Facebook with a plea for help, a now common and constant move for concerned loved ones in disasters such as the Northern California wildfires.

But she hesitated.

“At first, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I wanted to respect my mother’s privacy,” Tunis, whose mother was still among the missing amid the fires, told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “I didn’t want to spread her all over the place.”

She soon realized that was exactly what she wanted to do. She joined the dozens of people posting heartfelt pleas like “Looking for my Grandpa Robert,” ”We are looking for our mother Norma,” or “I can’t find my mom,” with hopes they are just out of touch and not among the dead. The increasingly familiar ritual was seen with recent hurricanes Harvey, Rita and Maria and after last week’s Las Vegas shooting.

Nearly 200 people were reported missing, though authorities say many are believed to be safe just unable to communicate with friends and family because of downed communication lines in the fire areas.

Tunis posted a picture of her mother smiling at a café with the caption, “Does anyone know if Journey’s End Mobile Home Park got evacuated before it burned down? I can’t find my mom, Linda Tunis.”

Most, including the owner of the trailer park and residents who talked to the AP, believe everyone did, in fact, get out before it burned to the ground. But Linda Tunis is still missing.

“I’ve called the coroner. I’ve called every hospital. There are no Jane Does, which is amazing that they know who everyone is,” Tunis said. “I’ve called burn…

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