Lee Co. officials use social media to connect with residents during winter storm

Lee Co. officials use social media to connect with residents during winter storm

LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - With last of the snow and ice melting away, Lee County is beginning to thaw out.

"We did have some calls from people that had attempted to negotiate the roads and weren't successful, slid off the road and needed services, but Those calls were not that many and I think that attributed to the fact that most people used sense and stayed home and waiting till the roads got better," explains Sheriff Jay Jones of the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Even though the intensity of winter storm took people by surprise, county officials are happy with how they prepared for the week.

"We credit that to the partnerships we have with our first responder agencies, school officials and elected officials. We got with them well before the event came through face to face meetings, talking about the what-ifs, looking at all the possibilities and making the decisions early on. I think those were the right decisions and we're very pleased about how everybody came through this," says Chris Tate of the Lee County Emergency Management Agency.

Tate says this was the first time the Lee County EMA engaged heavily with the public about the storm system through social media.

EMA officials were constantly updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts with new information like road closures in the area.

"It gives us immediate feedback from the public as to what going on. It really helps with situational awareness as we post on Facebook and that goes out on twitter as well," explains Tate.

Since Tuesday, the Lee County EMA has gained over 2,500 likes on Facebook and through residents "sharing" their information they were able to reach over 55,000 people.

"With a staff of five employees, it's hard to answer all those phones, but I can post to social media and instantaneously get 2,000 likes and just as many shares," says Tate.

Like the EMA, the Lee County Sheriff's Office utilized their Facebook as well as their Smartphone app to update citizens with the very latest winter storm information.

In large part, social media helped keep the number of serious injuries down throughout the county.

"It helps us get the information out to a lot of people and judging from the contacts it appeared to go rather well also," explains Jones, "We're very pleased people got the information."

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