The storms and tornadoes that passed through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and several other states on Wednesday created a path of destruction that is still hard to comprehend. In some areas rescue efforts are still underway, and the cleanup and grieving for the loss of life is just beginning.
I’ve never seen anything like it. When the power went out Wednesday, the phone lines were down, and I couldn’t make any outgoing calls on my cell phone, I had one source of information. I was constantly refreshing my Twitter stream on my phone to get the latest updates on the storm and following hashtags like #CHAwx.
Based on the tweets from our local Chattanooga reporters, The Weather Channel, and citizens reporting what they were seeing, I was getting real-time updates every second. The fact that local news organizations (@WRCB, @NoogaNews, @newschannelnine and others) and their individual reporters embraced the hashtag, gave the community a place to follow and track what was happening as the news rolled in. Since tens of thousands of us were without power (and still are), it was imperative that we were able to receive updates and communicate quickly what was happening.
Speaking of power, EPB (Electric Power Board) continues to do a great job of working as fast as they can around the clock to restore power, repair downed power lines, and remove trees. After the first round of storms passed through, my grandmother called saying there were lines laying across her backyard. She was having trouble getting calls through to EPB. After I unsuccessfully tried calling, I noticed they were taking information on their Twitter page (@EPB_Chattanooga) and replying as best they could to people who were reporting lines down.
Once Thursday morning arrived, hashtags like #CHAhelp for the Chattanooga metro area and #CLEhelp for Cleveland, TN began carrying information about where volunteers and supplies were needed. As the cleanup continues, I’m continuing to see updates today. Thanks to the United Way (@UnitedWayChatt) I have been able to look at their web page of resources, requests, and needs that are being updated frequently.
If you know of other resources or needs in our area, please leave them in the comments below. And if you used Twitter as a resource during the storms, I’d love to hear your story.