post by Stephanie Nelson
Living in Charlotte, I found myself in a bit of the path of Hurricane Florence this past weekend. My brother lives in Wilmington, so he and his family found themselves fleeing the coast and staying gone for roughly a week. Since this was the first real natural disaster that hit all of us (unlike a snow storm that usually doesn’t affect the coast or other hurricanes that don’t make it inland to me), I took notice of how we used social media during this time.
Not knowing when or if our power would go out, I tried to keep all of my devices fully charged. Being able to take a quick peek at Facebook helped me easily keep tabs on my peeps. I know this helped my sister-in-law, too. Instead of having to text or call everyone individually, she could post once to Facebook and quickly let her peeps know they were safe.
Facebook was also essential in letting my brother know when it was safe to try to return from their evacuation. Their neighbors sharing photos and posts, along with news stations between their home and where they evacuated to, let them know how the roads were, what kind of damage they could expect, etc.
Lastly, Facebook’s “mark safe” function was appreciated by my far-flung friends and family. They were seeing news of Florence’s path and devastation but weren’t really sure how much or if I was affected. When I marked myself safe after the storm had passed, I got a lot of responses, thanking me for the update. Since they didn’t know if we were without power, they didn’t want to call or text and end up running out the battery on my phone, but they had been concerned about how we were faring. Knowing that, my one suggestion to Facebook would be to let folks mark themselves as safe more than once. I had waited because, while I was safe at that time, we still had a lot of storm left to get through. I didn’t want to say something that might end up not being true 5 minutes later.
Did you weather Hurricane Florence, too? Or have you survived a natural disaster since the advent of social media? Did social media help you in any way?