Bayou City

Social Media Aids Houston Rapper U-Flo's Rescue

U-Flo's Instagrammed plea for help made its way to the right people.
U-Flo's Instagrammed plea for help made its way to the right people. Screenshot/Instagram
Ulises Flores has been through this before. Last time, it was Tropical Storm Allison that forced his family to seek refuge on the roof of their Northeast Houston home. Now, Harvey was bearing down with its heavy rains.

This time, Flores and his parents weren’t going to risk it and ride it out on the roof, so by Sunday morning they were wading through chest-deep waters, their belongings in buckets and they searched for high ground.

“We had just got out [of] the neighborhood, water was up to my hips at my house, it was like someone had a waterhose and just kept pouring water into the house,” Flores says.

Flores, who raps under the name U–Flo, took to Instagram to get help after his family made it to a nearby Dollar General, where about 30 other people were waiting with their belongings. Since Flores works for the Radio One network’s street team, he knew the immediacy of social media. He pulled out his phone and recorded a video asking people for help. The comments on the video piled up and someone from 97.9 The Box, one of Radio One's Houston stations, called to get his cry for help on the air.

A post shared by U-Flo (@yaboiuflo) on

“We’re just trying to get ahold of the Red Cross, find some shelter,” Flores says into the camera outside the store. The image of Flores shows a chillingly lonely strip mall.

Not able to wait, Flores flagged down a truck and the driver directed him to the local church three miles away, which was acting as a shelter. The family walked there until they got in touch with a family friend who picked them up and took them in.

Later, Flores got in touch with his sister, who lives up in the Humble area, and is now staying dry up there. Since his rescue, he's been using his account to spread the word about others who need help and sharing numbers for first responders and volunteers.

"I'm more focused on just helping everybody that I can," he says.
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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.