OnStar, GM's in-vehicle security and communications subsidiary, is playing a role in helping victims of Harvey, the once-hurricane that has ravaged southeastern Texas with flooding. OnStar is fielding overflow calls from the Red Cross and evacuation requests from overwhelmed 911 call centers, Automotive News reports.

The subscription-based service has about 200,000 customers in the region affected by the storm and has taken more than 18,500 calls related to it since Saturday, Cathy Bishop, OnStar's global emergency services manager in Detroit, told the publication (subscription required). She said the Red Cross asked for help, so OnStar worked with local emergency responders on a system where OnStar would pass along rescue requests via email to local 911 call centers if the caller wasn't in immediate danger.

OnStar has a crisis team of six people who have been monitoring the storm since last Thursday from a situation room in OnStar's Detroit headquarters.

Many OnStar operators have fielded calls from people stuck in their vehicles in the water. Also, "We had one gentleman whose home was right in the eye of the storm," Bishop was quoted as saying. "He had no power, no cellphone service — his cellphone was wet — so he went to his car in the his garage and told us his house was 'crumbling around him.' We were able to coordinate with the local 911 center to make sure he was safely evacuated."

Since Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, Bishop said the company has added connected-vehicle and WiFi hotspot technology to its service, allowing people trapped by floodwaters and without power to use a laptop in their vehicle to communicate.

Harvey is currently rated as a tropical depression moving northeasterly over Louisiana.

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