For the East coast, we often only see the pictures and video of a natural disaster. Whether it be Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Haiti or the most recent oil spill in the gulf, residents of the eastern seaboard usually just have to deal with the occasional blizzard. Hurricane Sandy gave us first-hand experience of what it is like to be involved in a natural disaster. While Harrisburg didn’t receive the amount of damage as did places like Washington, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey, the Harrisburg area still had to endure loss of power and more over the safety of loved ones.
While I know some people out there still are against Facebook and Twitter, I don’t know how I would have gotten through Hurricane Sandy without them. Those people who lost power were still able to communicate with friends and family, but also were able to communicate with other people in the community. A dear friend of mine has family that live in each of the five boroughs in New York City and was very afraid for the safety of his dearest relatives. Facebook allowed them to reach each other in ways that may not have been available in years’ past. He was able to know that even though they lost power, they were safe. Facebook also allowed news media to chance to communicate with their constituents in a new way that should and will be embraced in our new digital age.
Twitter also allowed followers to know and understand what was going on in our surrounding areas. For me, #SandyCenPa was a forum that people could discuss road closures and power outages and news outlets were able to disseminate information about speed limit changes and regional flood warnings that otherwise would have been impossible for those to access without power. There were a series of other forums on Twitter: #SandyNYC, #SandyPhilly and #SandyDC that allowed people regionally without power to get an understanding of what was happening around them and to know what areas were unsafe.
While listening to New York City’s own Ron and Fez Show on SiriusXM today, Ron Bennington made a great comment: “The one good thing about this (hurricane) that we can take away is our ability to band together and help one another.” I think social media in Hurricane Sandy helped everyone keep things in perspective and understand social media’s true power.
Paul M. Miller