The Power of Social in the Flood Community

The rapid sharing of real-time information through social platforms remains one of the most beneficial resources to emergency management intelligence and situational awareness. While vetted social media intelligence can be tough for emergency managers to wrap their arms around, the benefits are worth the taking the time to have a solid process to collect and use this information. The process of creating a solid foundation for social media info collection can level up an EMA’s situational awareness internally, assess the real-world impacts during response phase, and allow for a place to learn from other professionals who have personally dealt with a flood crisis in their own jurisdiction.

Agency Readiness and Awareness

  1. NWS: An account that represents the National Weather Service as an entirety on a country level: https://twitter.com/NWS. Also be sure to follow your local office for specific forecasts and warnings for your jurisdiction. There are also quite a few regional specialized accounts, such as the Storm Prediction Center (https://twitter.com/NWSSPC) and the NWS River Forecast Center (https://twitter.com/NWSMARFC).
  2. USGS: There are several accounts that specialize in certain geologic hazards (earthquake/volcano info). USGS also is very active in flood monitoring. Check out USGS Water Resources (https://twitter.com/USGS_Water) and USGS StreamStats (https://twitter.com/USGSStreamStats). Lastly, Texas has a bot feed that automatically tweets precipitation stations (https://twitter.com/USGS_TexasRain).
  3. Local Media: Having a beat on local stories is essential. Follow all media stations and consider following newspapers as well. In the past, I have learned about flood complaints from media articles and interviews before I ever had the resident call my office to report a flood issue.

Resident Preparedness and Response Needs

Resident perception of response can also be monitored. The success of disaster response and recovery is often based on the judgement of those affected. A jurisdiction could be following correct response tactics and doing everything correctly for the response, but if resident and media perception of the response is negative, it will be deemed as a failed response. Monitoring perception can help an agency craft public information to better display all of the actions being taken during disaster by the government, especially since many emergency management actions are taken behind the scenes. Messaging can also be crafted to correct incorrect perceptions that develop based on misunderstanding of disaster law, response tactics, or misinformation and rumors.

Lastly, using the social space for flood outreach and education is a plus. While many of us wish we could be out conducting outreach in our communities every day, many agencies are short on staff and have long to-do lists. Social media gives us an ability to educate the public on items like flood insurance, flood mapping, flood myths, and flood watches and warnings. For an example of a flood myth campaign, check out the weekly item we did for National Preparedness Month 2021: (https://twitter.com/BaltCoEmergency/status/1440318259476058116)

Learning From Others

Summary

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Ashley Morris

CEM | MD Emergency Management | Preparedness & Alerts & Plans | IMT | Social Media | VOST | SVI | Weather Forecasting | Geoscientist | GIS | ♥️🚒 #EMGTwitter