Social media helps with disaster relief

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -  Three months ago severe weather wreaked havoc on portions of Georgia and Alabama, forcing agencies all over the region to step up their relief efforts.

Now some local organizations are teaming up to make sure they are prepared ahead of time, and they want to use social websites to help with the efforts.

You may not think that your Facebook or Twitter account can do much in the way of disaster relief efforts, but at this year's "Threat Preparedness and Response Summit" organizations are working on ways to use technology to help others.

On April 27th, at 4:30 central time, a tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Minutes later videos and pictures popped up all over Facebook and Twitter.

"We're looking at how social media is changing the way communities respond by both getting information and sending information out," explained event coordinator mark Lupo.

Whether the disaster is severe weather, or man-made, organizations all over Georgia and Alabama are educating themselves on keeping the public and each other informed.

Lupo, who is also with Public Safety at Chattachoochee Valley Community College, said, "We need to be aware of the fact that we are continually under threats and we should take pro-active steps as simple as just coming to a forum like this."

Social media can be used before disaster strikes as a warning device, and it can also be used to recruit more help during the aftermath.

"Social media has the ability to give a cost effective solution to promote awareness, whether it be relief efforts or just basic practice and preparation for any type of disaster incoming," said Lucas Shaffer, the owner of "Stand and Stretch", a professional social media company.

Shaffer is presenting ideas at the conference that will help these various organizations act as an information hub for relief efforts, "If you have the opportunity to create the community where people can look for you to get information."

A lesson Pam Fair with the West Georgia Health District says is valuable for her team, "It's important to note that when an emergency happens, all agencies need to come together for the good of those effected in that emergency. The better we collaborate together, the better we coordinate together, the better the response will be."

The "Threat Preparedness and Response Summit" continues at Chattachoochee Valley Community College Friday. To register for the conference you can call (334)214-4807 or e-mail

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