News Column

Social Media Keep People in the Eye of the Storm

October 30, 2012

Ann Baldelli

Electric Boat notified employees at its facilities in Connecticut and Rhode Island Sunday night that it was canceling first and second shifts Monday and third shift Tuesday in the wake of the impending storm.

The shipbuilder is just one of myriad corporations, businesses, governments, educational institutions, nonprofits and others who turned to the Internet to use Facebook, Twitter and other technology platforms to send messages and updates as Hurricane Sandy threatened and then arrived in southeastern Connecticut about midday Monday.

As with Tropical Storm Irene, social media is playing a big part in the storm.

The White House blog is filled with storm-related information, and the Obama administration sent seemingly nonstop emails alerting citizens to the threat posed by Sandy.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is getting its message out on Twitter and Facebook, as are local emergency service operations and many others.

Ledyard's mayor's chief administrative officer, Mark Bancroft, has been posting pertinent storm-related news for locals on his Facebook page for days.

It's the same in Stonington, where First Selectman Ed Haberek is keeping townspeople informed up-to-the-minute on where flooding is occurring, trees and power lines are down, and where shelter is available.

But it's not just Gov. Dannel P. Malloy or New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio who are using social media to connect with constituents about the storm; ordinary people are reporting their personal observations, too.

By Monday afternoon, Face book was filled with photos from people sharing the view outside their door.

Like the ones of the pounding surf at Neptune Park in New London, or the flooded streets in downtown Mystic, or the tree toppled on the library in Stonington borough.

There was practical information, too: Like the report from Lawrence & Memorial Hospital that its Pequot Medical Center would remain open through the duration of the storm.

And then just interesting observations, like this one from a sailor and New London City Council President Michael Passero: that at 2 p.m. Monday, a gust of 69 mph wind was recorded at Ledge Light in Fishers Island Sound.

Twitter was busy, too. Every news outlet and news reporter was tweeting on the storm, as were politicians, emergency responders and living room commentators. Some tweets were witty, like the one that John's Cafe in Mystic seemed to be the only business open (like a proper Irish pub should be) and others practical, like FEMA's warning not to run a generator inside a building or closed structure.

Even Malloy was using the technology as a storm tool Monday when he tweeted: "If you lose power, let friends/family know you are OK through text msgs or social media to preserve phone battery life."



Source: (c) 2012 The Day (New London, Conn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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