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Hurricane Sandy: Authorities use social media to keep people informed

First Published Oct 29 2012 02:18 pm • Last Updated Oct 29 2012 02:28 pm

As Hurricane Sandy unfolded over the weekend, people up and down the East Coast used social media to follow every one of its moves.

Schools, businesses and public transportation were shut down in many areas, but as long as people have power and battery life in their mobiles and tablets, they were tuning in at home and keeping pace with latest developments via Twitter and Facebook.

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Many government officials and agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have taken full advantage of the power of these social networks, using them to keep people updated on the storm, as well as providing advice on how to survive it. FEMA on Monday morning tweeted to more than 157,000 followers that, "Phone lines may be congested during/after #Sandy. Let loved one know you are OK by sending a text or updating your social networks."

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate has been tweeting about the storm periodically for about a week, and has provided more than 30,000 people with tips and links to help them sift through all the news about Sandy.

The National Weather Service also is updating its Twitter feed with information from the National Hurricane Center, but NSW’s Facebook page appears to have a lot more traction with more than 100 people clicking "like" every time it posts something.

Various accounts have been created on Facebook and are updated every five to 10 minutes so that people are informed on the latest developments. Facebook has been especially useful for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has been updating users with the compelling pictures as well as satellite images and storm-tracking diagrams of Sandy, as well as videos.

Through Google, people can find an interactive map that allows them to track the storm and find information on the affected areas. The map also points people to the nearest shelter.

For cell phones and tablets, there are several applications that can be downloaded, such as Hurricane Tracker and Hurricane HD. Through both applications, people have access to animated maps that are tracking the storm.

People also have been using the American Red Cross’ application, The Hurricane, to update Twitter and Facebook, as well as to email and text relatives and friends that they are safe in a message blast.

AccuWeather.com, a weather forecast website, is using Google+ to connect with their users and answer any questions they may have for meteorologists.

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