Researchers have established the prominent role digital volunteers play during crises and disasters. From self‐organizing to annotating public data, these volunteers are now a fixture in disaster research. However, we know much less about how these volunteers function, behind the public scene, when using private social media as a disaster unfolds and people need to be rescued. This qualitative study identified the emergent helping roles along with the skillsets and abilities that helped volunteers perform these behind‐the‐scene roles during the Hurricane Harvey flooding in 2017. Using in‐depth interviews along with captured images in private social media, we find these volunteers resembled organizational knowledge workers. We identify nine specific communicating and coordinating actions that these disaster knowledge workers performed. The contributions of these findings centre on implications for disaster response and management.
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- International Journal of Emergency Services
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- National Science Foundation
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