Bringing us together in a time of crisis.
by André Natta
People throughout Alabama and across the world have continued their outpouring of support for those affected by the tornadoes that moved through the state on April 27, 2011. Countless photos, videos and accounts from citizens shared via mobile phone, tweet or status update have made it easier to get a full account of the devastation at a level not previously seen with other natural disasters.
Social media continues to play a great role with both those wanting to help and those seeking assistance. Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency has done an impressive job of reaching out to the community using any and all media to help those affected begin the process of moving forward. This includes turning to Twitter (@AlabamaEMA), Facebook and YouTube to share information about registering and tips to aid in debris pick-up.
Speaking of sharing information collected, ABC 33/40 chief meteorologist James Spann has transformed his Twitter (@spann) and Facebook accounts into a clearinghouse for wants and needs of those communities affected. While the majority of interest locally has been focused on how he used the online profiles to keep people informed while the storms marched across the state that evening, Lost Remote (a website that focuses on the continuing evolution of social television) took the time in to focus on how he’s morphed his digital outposts into a “social news phenomenon.” While it may not be possible to maintain that level of activity on the site for a long period of time, I know there are several extremely grateful to James Spann for the similar service he’s been providing.
The website for the campaign of the Alabama Poverty Project has compiled an exhaustive list of efforts being shared online that probably best covers all of the others that I don’t have time or space to recognize—http://alabamapossible.org/2011/04/tornado-relief-how-you-can-help/
One last site I wanted to bring people’s attention to was Recovery Alabama, a partnership involving The Tuscaloosa News, the Gadsden Times, the University of Alabama and the American Red Cross among others. The site is built using an open source platform named Ushahidi. It allowed the partners to create a site that serves the entire state, collecting offers of help and requests for assistance in a visual format giving people a clearer understanding of how widespread the damage is throughout the state and how large the pool of resources seeking to help rebuild.
I have a feeling that as the efforts continue to unfold in the months and years ahead, projects like this one will help us move closer to being as supportive as possible—while rebuilding a community that is more united than ever before and ready to face any challenges ahead.
André Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.