The difference between social media use during a crisis a decade ago compared to now is striking. In 2011, only 10% of people looked to social media for crisis information. That number had skyrocketed to nearly 70%, making social media a powerful tool for decision-makers before, during, and after a hurricane.
Monitoring social media chatter before and during the storm can identify problems with hurricane preparedness and recovery. Leaders can use the information to disseminate the most relevant information to the areas that struggled the most with previous disaster recovery. For example, a flood-prone area may become cut off due to rising water. Leaders can target those areas during future hurricanes to educate the public on why they need to evacuate (using local historical examples), tell them how to vacate the area safely, and where they can go for shelter.
Timing social media outreach is essential. Most individuals can only access social channels before or during the storm. They’re likely to lose power in the aftermath and not have access to much-needed disaster relief information. Sharing this information well ahead of the storm can reduce stress and confusion regarding emergency aid and services.
Putting Resources Where They’re Most Needed
Social media can identify the areas in greatest need of resources. Everyone in a community affected by a hurricane will have disaster recovery needs. However, some may be more severe than others, such as a neighborhood without power or running water versus a nearby community with mild to moderate property damage. Individuals affected by the storm can use social media to locate their family and friends. People who want to help with disaster recovery can quickly learn where to send donations. They can also find out which supplies residents need most, such as clothing, bottled water, and non-perishable food.
Better Disaster Risk Management
Social media provides status updates directly from the individuals most affected by severe weather. Tracking these posts can identify when and where problems are most likely to occur during a hurricane. Decision makers can learn from previous mistakes and bottlenecks to provide communities with relevant information.
Businesses can use social media following a hurricane in several ways. They can communicate with clients, suppliers, and employees regarding where they stand on disaster recovery efforts. They can also keep customers aware of their rebuilding plans, if they need to relocate, and when they intend to reopen.
Managing the risks of natural disasters like hurricanes is a complex process. It rarely looks the same from one community to another, as geography, socioeconomic status, and access to health care and resources all play a role in disaster recovery. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to learn more about hurricane preparedness.