This blog features observations from Randy Turner, a teacher who can't stop writing and also a former newspaper reporter and editor. Send news items or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 04, 2012
Joplin Tornado Info featured in National Journal
Joplin Tornado Info, the website that provided and continues to provide up-to-date information on everything concerning the tornado and recovery, has received some well-deserved national recognition, courtesy of the National Journal.
Just hours after a tornado devastated parts of Joplin, Mo., in the late afternoon of May 22, 2011, the mother-daughter team of Rebecca and Genevieve Williams of the nearby town of Neosho went to work on a Facebook page. By midnight, Joplin Tornado Info had received 25,000 "likes." Within 48 hours, 49,000 people had "liked" the page.
In the days that followed, the page became a clearinghouse for information on recovery, how to volunteer, where to donate supplies, media updates, and requests for information about loved ones. Eventually, administrator privileges were extended to 30 volunteers, including public-information officials at the local gas, electric, and water utilities. It was one big piece of a spontaneous eruption of social media that helped those survivors who relied on their smartphones for access to information.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency did not play a meaningful role in this effort, according to the Williamses. “They were a little bit reluctant,” Genevieve told National Journal, taking a diplomatic tone. “I think it’s a scary, brave new world for them.” Her mother was blunter. “They chose not to work with us,” Rebecca said.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate was not surprised to hear this. “That’s probably true,” he said in an interview. “Trying to change cultures in any organization is a challenge. We’re getting better.”