This is a guest post from Mandy Miller, an Account Coordinator at Racepoint Group. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMMiller9.
In our beautiful Racepoint Waltham office, my desk sits next to a window. Even with this scenic ‘advantage’ for weather, I found out about the storms in Massachusetts via WCVB Boston’s Facebook page before the storms even moved into the Boston suburbs.
The tornadoes in western Massachusetts yesterday brought shock to the New England area and nation. The news especially tugs on my heart as I’m a seasoned severe weather vet native of Tornado Alley. Growing up in rural Iowa, we learned of tornadoes from the television or radio (if you still had power), within an hour or even minutes in advance. While I was able to experience the ugly side of Mother Nature first-hand, I was never able to use social media to save lives or connect with others. If your home was still standing, you would see images from across the state and nation hours later on the television or in the papers (yes, the printed ones) the next day. Chances are it was only your small-town community that helped you rebuild your life. Today, with the power of these tools, social media is redefining what our communities are, as well as helping save lives.
During the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, doctors in Japan used Twitter to reach chronically-ill patients, instructing them on where to go to get life-saving treatment after phone networks became inoperable. In the days that followed the tornadoes in Alabama, Facebook & Twitter became an epicenter for people wanting to help, reunions of loved ones, pets and even treasured photos. It also provided public forums to remember those killed in the storms. Today, your community is the world.
Although community and connections are very important in these situations, I’m still baffled at the number of individuals who lose their lives in natural disasters, and have to wonder how many fatalities could be prevented using social media, apps and technology such as weather text alerts available today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reported 132 deaths and 750 injuries, with 156 unaccounted for in Joplin, Missouri. If more individuals and families were empowered with the simple tools that alert you of natural disasters and severe weather, I can only imagine further heartache that could be avoided from these tragedies.
Have you been affected by severe weather this year or recently and used social media to communicate and connect with others?