Irene and Social Media
I am writing this the Friday before Labor Day Weekend and hopefully there have not been any storms since then. I know some Emerald Isle second home owners and vacationers suffered damage at their primary homes from Hurricane Irene and I wish all of you a speedy recovery. One Emerald Isle second home owner emailed that he fully expected to be dealing with hurricane damage, but he never expected that it would be in upstate New York rather than Emerald Isle.
The Town of Emerald Isle has always considered timely and accurate communication to its property owners and visitors a high priority. Certainly it was very important before, during, and after Hurricane Irene. The major forms of communication used were: 1) Town web site (www.emeraldisle-nc.org); Town’s email list (you can sign up for it at www.emerald-isle.org); Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/townemeraldisle); Friends of Emerald Isle Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/emeraldislenc) which is normally used for fun activities in and around Emerald Isle. There was a constant flow of phone calls to Town Hall prior to the arrival of Irene and to the Emerald Isle Police Department during and after the hurricane until Emerald Isle was opened up Sunday.
The starting points on all of the updates were the updates prepared by Town Manager Frank Rush. There were 14 in total. This was used as the basis for information disbursed through all of the above methods. During the hurricane and immediately after the hurricane, we wanted to send a few additional updates, but we lost our landline cable connection, and the wireless connection was intermittent.
Facebook and Twitter were very active. The weekly visits on Facebook went from 500 to 6,000 for that week. Twitter followers doubled during the week and Facebook Friends increased by 500. Both were definitely very popular methods of distributing information. I was actually surprised at how accurate most of the information was that was posted by the posters. There were a few comments on “I heard this or I heard that” that were not accurate, but they were corrected in short order by other posters. It was very interesting to see the many posts about how much people cared about Emerald Isle and comments about the many groups (family, neighborhood, church, etc) that had been visiting Emerald Isle for many years.
Communication infrastructure (land line cable, phone line, and cell phone towers [top of water tower in our case]) all are subject to failure during heavy wind storms and hurricanes. We have multiple connection options and we will continue to look for the most reliable options for future events.
I look forward to seeing y’all in Emerald Isle this fall. For many, the fall is the best time of year.