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Social media as a tool in flow of storm information

From Facebook updates on severe weather to mobile apps directing victims to shelters during times of disaster, social media are becoming an integral part of emergency preparedness and response.

The Times-Union sent out more than 500 tweets during the storm from Sunday morning to Monday evening.  BRUCE LIPSKY/The Times-Union

BRUCE LIPSKY/The Times-Union
The Times-Union sent out more than 500 tweets during the storm from Sunday morning to Monday evening.
Relief groups such as the Red Cross and local government emergency response departments are increasingly using the power of social media to disseminate potentially lifesaving information when disaster strikes.

When Tropical Storm Beryl began dumping the first inches of what turned out to be more than a foot of rain on Northeast Florida last week, Jacksonville’s National Weather Service used Facebook to provide information to residents. It included where to find official forecast resources, maps and weather condition updates.

Social media help address weather issues in emergency situations and are too powerful a communication tool not to use, said Steve Letro, Weather Service chief meteorologist in Jacksonville.

“We used Facebook quite a bit to provide updated information and put some things out there to get people to go to our website,” Letro said. “We did get a lot of ‘likes’ and a lot of comments. … This is the first weather event that lent itself to that use. Facebook is so powerful and it seems like everyone is on it.”

Social media also allowed the American Red Cross of Northeast Florida to provide critical information to the public on Beryl, a two-way conversation that allowed them to respond to questions and connect people with resources. Although the storm never got bad enough to need anything more than one special-needs shelter in Lake City, what they sent out became a test of how well it could work when a big storm hits, said spokeswoman Amber Bierfreund.  Read More

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A Revolution in Social Networking

Posted on June 3, 2012, in #social media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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