Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Web Secret #156: Social Media in a Disaster - part 2

I have written many posts where I am critical of social media.

But I have also showcased the wonders of the Internet. For example, I previously wrote a post showing some of the ways it can be incredibly powerful after a disaster.

Time passes, and as users become more sophisticated, so does their creativity with new media.

Following the devastating tornadoes that ravaged the South this past April, I came upon a wonderful example of this in the New York Times.

Patty Bullion, 37, of Lester, Ala., created a Facebook page directly titled Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes. She asked her friends to post a link to it on their own pages. People were invited to post photos of any items they found along with their e-mail address so that they could be claimed by storm survivors.

The first of the images that Ms. Bullion posted were identified and claimed a few hours later. They were from Hackleburg, Ala., a town almost 100 miles away.

Perhaps most poignantly:

"The tornado that killed Emily Washburn’s grandfather this week also destroyed his Mississippi home, leaving his family with nothing to remember him by — until a picture of him holding the dog he loved surfaced on Facebook, posted by a woman who found it in her office parking lot, 175 miles away in Tennessee.

Like hundreds of others finding keepsakes that fell from the sky ... the woman included her e-mail address, and Ms. Washburn wrote immediately: “That man is my granddaddy. It would mean a lot to me to have that picture.”

The site is reuniting dozens with their prized — and in some cases, only — possessions.

An added bonus is the page has turned into an unexpected source of support. "Along with the photographs of found items are the comments of well-wishers and homespun detectives speculating as to the identities of their owners. For those spared by the storms that killed hundreds in the South, the page is a bridge to its victims, a way to offer solace and to share in their suffering." One person posted: “Is there anything that I can do for your family or your community?”

Within 48 hours, more than 52,000 people had clicked the “like” button on the page, and more than 600 pictures had been posted.

Bravo Patty!

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