New York and New Jersey are still recovering from the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy. When it’s all said and done, weeks and months will pass and the monetary cost will be astronomical, which is to say nothing of the lives lost.
I was lucky to get little more than a few strong gusts and plenty of wind where I live. Like many people, I was glued to my Twitter feed, trying to keep tabs on what was going on all along the Northeast. I had the TV on too, but that wasn’t telling the whole story. It was amazing to see Twitter come into its own as a major source of information and communication. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out a tweet in the middle of the night October 29th saying how proud he was of Twitter at that moment. Social media companies, of course, want to present themselves as being important. But during those couple days, Twitter really was a valuable resource.
If you were on Twitter that night, you know what I mean. People who had lost power relied on their phones for updates. People were RTing locations of others in desperate need. Pictures (many taken on Instagram) were shared, showing the devastation in real time. Mayors and governors were tweeting constantly, sending out instructions and alerts. For those without power, but with a charged phone, it was their only access to the outside world. And for those who were lucky enough to be unscathed, it provided a window into just how much help would be needed.
In the aftermath of the storm, Twitter continues to be used for everything, ranging from direct communication with ConEd (seriously, check out their feed) to helping people adopt animals that were left homeless or abandoned by the storm.
WebiMax headquarters is located in South Jersey. This is our first day back in the office following Hurricane Sandy. Luckily, we have power and we did not experience the same levels of damage that the NJ Shore, Newark, and parts of Delaware, New York, and New England endured. Our thoughts are with those who lost their homes or worse – their lives. Among all of the chaos and destruction are brave and generous people who are stepping up to help each other everywhere we look – from neighbors helping to clean each others’ yards to people opening their homes and their hearts all over our Facebook news feeds.
There’s no doubt about it – Sandy was a unique storm on many different levels. Not only did she produce once-in-a-lifetime coastal flooding, 80 mph sustained winds, and wide-spread power outages, but social media played an unprecedented part in spreading safety tips, news, photos, and personal updates in real-time by those who were affected as well as by public safety organizations, major news outlets, and even local politicians.
While millions of people kept in touch and joined the conversation on various social media sites, there is one person who stood out to me on my Twitter feed throughout the ordeal: Cory Booker. The Newark Mayor has always had an impressive Twitter presence, but superstorm Sandy proved that Booker is just as in touch with the power of social media as he is with the community he serves.
Since the storm hit, Booker has been driving around with supplies, making house calls to those in need. Here’s is just one example from last night:
Two hours later, this appeared on his Twitter feed:
And this is the Newark resident’s current Twitter profile picture, with Cory Booker during the house call (with the toy car he gave her nephew):
When it comes to tragedies, including natural disasters, many people try to find the silver lining or a lesson that can be learned. In this case, one of the lessons is that social sites are communication tools powerful enough to save lives.
Sandy showed us that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have much more to offer than photos of what your second-cousin-once-removed is eating for dinner (filet and baked beans, in case you’re wondering…); over the past few days, they’ve offered updates to people who are unsure if their homes are still standing, peace of mind to those worried about their loved ones, and hand-delivered diapers to a toddler in Newark, NJ by his Mayor, Cory Booker.
Thank you, @corybooker, and best wishes to everyone in the Northeast in the coming days and weeks.