Hurricane Sandy came ripping up the Eastern Seaboard, causing unparalleled amounts of damage. Millions lost power. Thousands lost their homes.
This is where social media can have a massive impact on the aftermath of a disaster like Sandy. Many platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide lines of communication. When your power is out, apps on your battery-powered phone or iPad could be your only line of contact with others who may be in a similar predicament.
Social media is being used to help raise money for those severely impacted by the hurricane. I have already begun to see charities pop up through Red Cross and Salvation Army but also through Kickstarter. These projects are being created to purchase clothes, canned foods and I even saw a project to put together trucks to bring hot food to people without power.
Even Kickstarter projects that had started prior to the hurricane have decided to lend a hand. One example is a project called Castle Dice, a dice-based board game. After the hurricane, project creator, Luke Peterschmidt, took down the “stretch goals” (add-ons to a project after the target amount is reached) and declared that 10% of the funds would go to hurricane relief charities. Castle Dice achieved above its target amount by almost a third. If other projects followed this example, it would bring in a decent stream of relief aid.
I myself had an experience with using social media in the aftermath. As you may know, the massive power-outs have caused many to rely on gas-powered generators until emergency services can get to their homes. Because of this, every gas station has extremely long lines (some going into even hundreds of cars). Fuel is coming in by the millions of gallons, but these lines have persisted out of panic.
However, through social media apps like Facebook (where one of my friends let me know about a recently opened gas station, severely cutting down my wait time) and GasBuddy offer almost-instant updates on which gas stations are open, when a delivery is supposed to be made, which stations are price gouging and a so much more. It’s all about having accurate information to help get us through the shortage.
The aftermath of any disaster, whether natural or man-made, is always frightening. You don’t know when you’ll get power back. You don’t know how bad the roads are. You just don’t know anything. The use of social media has provided a great help in getting communication and information out to people who may not have access to a television or landline.