As superstorm Sandy continues to devastate the states of the Northern American East Coast, thousands of families are left without electricity, food, shelter, and aid. The ongoing hurricane has caused upwards of $50 billion in damages; US citizens that inhabit the areas are in a state of confusion and desolation. In the wake of the trail of destruction left by Sandy, where are East Coastians turning for emergency information? And how are the rest of us getting our minute-by-minute updates about our friends and family members?
While there may not be enough power to fully revive many of the coastal states, there is enough to charge hundreds of mobile devices. And where there is even a minimal amount of electrical current, there are those who will manage to update their social media accounts and keep the rest of the world informed.
Within a day of the Sandy making landfall, “#Sandy” had more than 4 million mentions by almost 400,000 unique sources on Twitter. “Hurricane Sandy” was the top phrase on Facebook in the United States for several days. Thousands of people posted images of the wreckage, designed donation based webpages, and “tweeted” their prayers for safety. While the ongoing debate about the effects of social media continues, there is no doubt that these platforms helped thousands of disenfranchised Americans gain national exposure, and then aid.
Americans were saddened by images of cars floating along flooded highways, and rooftops peaking out of waters that rose over 10 feet in some areas. These pictures appeared on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media networks—and because of them the public learned about how to donate time and money to those in need. People used these platforms to communicate where there was power, or shelter, where gas stations had opened, and which ones were accepting cash. News outlets were able to keep the general public informed using the same websites, while keeping residents of New Jersey and other affected areas up-to-date on the status of their family members, school and business closures, voting information, and local news.
As the storm approached the mainland, articles began to immerge reminding citizens how to download a flashlight application, and how to use the Red Cross First Aid app for various medical assistance tips. All of the articles were available on Twitter by following “#Sandy; some articles even read, “following #Sandy could save your life.” During this disaster, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram became communication lifelines that many used to call out for help and to send prayers. Thanks to citizen journalists and photographers images and alerts spread across the nation in hours, encouraging hundreds of people to come to the rescue with blankets, food, generators, water, cell phone charging stations, and other necessary materials. Some tweets even assisted law enforcement officials and firefighters in rescuing endangered citizens and animals. When utilized properly, social media is a mighty resource that can relay critical news, important information, and provide by the minute updates about any situation or event.
by Sasha Novikov, Creatine Marketing