Spawned by a chain of massive thunderstorms, a flurry of fast-moving tornados caused major destruction and disaster from the Gulf of Mexico to the Midwest on Friday. The wave of tornados killed 39 people and left many residents in it’s pathway, homeless and seeking shelter, food and clothing.
Phone connections were spotty at best and while emergency workers tried to clear debris and repair downed power lines, residents of the storm ravaged Midwest communities reached out to each other using social media. Neighbors contacted neighbors and social media sites were used to share information and coordinate disaster relief efforts. Accessible by cell phones, mobile devices and computers, Facebook pages were used for communities to assist each other.
To ask for flashlights and baby items, Bea Angel, a member of Piner Baptist Church in Morning View, Kentucky, turned to a Facebook group coordinating help in Northern Kentucky. In another community, members responded immediately with donations and offers to purchase items needed by a man who lost everything on Friday except for the clothes on his back. Jennifer Farwell Jewell, of Independence, Kentucky had written on a Facebook page that her church was “Looking for men’s size 46 pants and XXL shirts.”
Heather Reynolds, a volunteer leader and medical assistant at a firehouse in London, Kentucky helped concerned neighbors find tangible ways to help. She issued a call on her Facebook page for gloves, plastic tarps and clear plastic containers. Reynolds said, “Well it looks a lot better than it looked yesterday. However it will take years for things to be right.”
Facebook users in these storm damaged areas are already planning fundraisers and using social networking to coordinate and inform beyond the initial emergency relief needed by communities. When the disaster recovery is over, Facebook will be put to use in a variety of additional ways including concerts to raise relief funds, raffles and dance-a-thons.
Paul Schewene wrote on Facebook, “Last few days, we’ve kept up on the news related to the storms, traded information about who was okay or not, passed notice of missing people, and then good news that they were found. The Facebook groups were a lot of friends and neighbors reminding each other that they’re not alone, and that we’ll all do what we can to get ’em back on their feet and moving toward recovery.”
Timothy Anneken, from Fort Wright, Kentucky wrote on a Facebook page, “This type of care and concern is what makes Facebook and the internet well worth having!”
Donating a ton of clothes to those hit by the tornados in henryville indiana