Local residents get involved in storm coverage through Facebook, TwitterWritten by Michael Driehorst | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As deadly and damaging storms rolled through Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan into the morning of June 6, many people kept one eye on their TV, one eye on the skies — and their fingers on their keyboards.
In the age of free and easy access to online and mobile broadcasting, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms enable everyday people to broadcast firsthand news just like traditional media have done for decades.
As the first severe weather started to hit the region, Traci Curth of Sylvania (@TraciLeigh) tweeted, “There goes the tornado siren. Headed to basement now. Will stay online …”
Around 1:30 a.m. June 6, J.M. Leong of Toledo (@Joys_Desk) tweeted, “Thunder and lightning now here in South Toledo; wind picked up about 20 minutes ago.”
At the same time, Maumee resident Becki Thompson (@bek1826) also was up, keeping an eye on the skies with this tweet: “This weather is getting really scary. Hope the tornados don’t hit our neighborhood.”
Toledo’s TV stations kept viewers updated throughout the early morning hours on the changing conditions and damage reports, with at least one weatherman, 13ABC’s Bill Spencer, citing “social networks” as sources for some of his reports.
As the Toledo-area media reported damages, they had plenty of help in spreading the word.
Toledo resident Nancy Hooven-Widman, who lists Delta as her hometown on Facebook, posted this Facebook update around 1 a.m.: “Guess the tornados hit Delta pretty good but, personally, we only saw lightning. No wind. No hail. Some rain. Round two is supposed to hit around 3 am.”
In addition to broadcasting, social media allows people to develop a sense of community in times of crisis and to try to help others. For example, as rescue and assistance crews started setting up across the region, many on Twitter and other platforms helped spread the word. Around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, a woman who goes by @BuckeyeLynn on Twitter sent this to her followers: “Delta Memorial Hall now shelter for storm victims in Delta, OH area. #tornado #storm #ohio”
Allen Mireles (@AllenMireles) of Waterville sent this call for help around 3:30 a.m. June 6: “One of my Facebook network posted that her uncle is missing and his house possibly leveled. Send her your prayers.”
As the dawn broke Sunday, many area residents who escaped major storm damage ventured out to survey their area, with many taking pictures and video.
Anthony Petronzi is a Flint resident attending Siena Heights University, Adrian, Mich. He posted this Facebook update: “Watching some videos from the tornado last night that hit Dundee. Touched down at 2:17 a.m., about 5 min after Adrian got hit with some 70 mph wind gusts. Dundee’s only like 20 min east of Adrian. It tore the roof off Cabelas.” Included with that update was video of storm damage in Dundee. That YouTube video was recorded by Skipa97.
Like many others, Toledoan Amanda Aldrich (@SweetPeaAmanda) volunteered to help in Lake Township. She sent this tweet Sunday morning: “I’m headed to Lake Township Fire Department today with @FFTToledo to help our friends with the #Toledo tornado devastation. Please join us.” Aldrich is the volunteer marketing director for Food for Thought.
Matt Book of Woodville (@MattBook) also volunteered his time Sunday and tweeted several pictures. Sunday evening, he published this tweet: “If you want to help this week, show up in the affected communities with a willing spirit, some gloves, and maybe a chainsaw. #tornado”
If you know of any fundraising or relief efforts to help those in Delta, Dundee, Lake Township or other areas that suffered damage, please post the information on the discussion page we’ve started on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ToledoFreePress. If you have pictures or video from the weekend’s storm damage you wish to share with Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, visit our Facebook page and upload them.
Michael Driehorst is the Social Networking Manager for the Toledo Free Press.