Social Media in Emergency Recovery and Natural Disasters
Just three weeks before I was to return to Tuscaloosa, AL for an honorary art exhibit, I looked in horror at the images from my computer as an F-5 tornado ripped a stripped out of the town where I had lived for 7 years.
I knew every community that had been devastated.
The Chinese restaurant on the corner, the pharmacy, the nursing home where my grandparents resided, the school where my grandmother taught reading, and even on a more personal level, the neighborhood where I lived.
Not only that, but I had entire communities that I had been connected with: friends from my work, church and social communities.
I called nearly everyone I knew, but many phone lines were down and cell phones were jammed.
Going to hyper-overdrive, I hit the airwaves. Over the next few days, I connected with many friends living in the area, identified specific organizations receiving aide, and was able to support this community from over 600 miles away.
Social Media Use for Emergency Preparedness
• Mobilizing emergency workers and rescuers, and warning where areas and roads were blocked off.
• Where emergency stations, evacuation centers, and donations centers were set up in the community.
• Mobilizing residential and community volunteers. What and where emergency items are needed, and when an area needs to stop receiving aide (because they had an overflow).
• Requesting long-term aide and in-person support after the initial crisis has passed.
• Creating a community of emotional support, which is just as vital to recovery as in-kind donations.
For the most part, most social media groups, list-serves and social media tags were respectful of the community. I saw the best in people come out, an entire on-line community supporting one another. First hand, I was able to see the benefit of using social media in crisis situations.
Yet, there was some concern over scams and the validity of organizations receiving aide. As with any organization, it is recommended that you research who they are before donating to them.