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Cleaning Up After Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has devastated Texas, and residents and business owners are taking stock of the damage the storm has wrought on their state.

Scientists are also taking toll, Nature News reports. Many biomedical institutions, particularly in Houston, tried to prepare for the storm, having learned the lessons of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Rice University, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Texas Health Science Center, and others had installed special doors and floodgates to hold back storm waters after Allison.

But for facilities in other parts of the state have not been so lucky, Nature News says, researchers around the country are stepping up and offering their help. "As of 31 August, roughly 200 scientific laboratories across the country have offered computer time, lab space, animal care and spare rooms to researchers displaced by the storm, using the hashtag #SciHelpTX on Twitter," the article adds.

The Scientist also reports that individual researchers are tweeting out offers to help any displaced Texas researchers, and the March for Science–Houston has launched a database with contact information for labs around the country that are willing to help, along with a description of the type of research they do, indicating what accommodations might be available.

"The NIH has mechanisms for natural disasters but we figured that might not move as quickly as the help that might be needed in the more immediate sense. From that I just said, 'well, let's do something small, let's do something immediate, let's do something grass roots and just put it up on Twitter,'" Thomas Jefferson University neuroscientist Tim Mosca tells The Scientist.

When requests for help start to come in, Mosca thinks they will be primarily for help with storage and care of animal stocks, The Scientist says. That's why he recommended the new database include the type of facilities available at the labs willing to help. "So that the fly people know where the fly people are, the fish people know where the fish people are, and that you can get something that's more tailored to what you need," he tells The Scientist. "I run a fruit fly laboratory so we're more than happy to take care of people's fruit fly stocks as long as they need. It's the very least we can do for our colleagues."