Social Media During #StormNZ

Today I was in Auckland watching the chaos of the Wellington floods from afar. I had a flight home booked for 5.55pm. The road from the airport to home was closed. It could of been a stressful and uncertain time but thanks to social media I knew exactly what was happening.

The

The “road” I usually take home. First seen on Slack, sourced Stuff

Throughout the day checked updates through Twitter, Facebook and our company’s Slack channels. Often this information was more helpful and current than the news and government agency sites I checked. When I rung my mum who was driving out of the CBD I knew more about the road conditions ahead then she did!

During #StormNZ social media connected Wellington. It was amazing to see how quickly people jumped to help each other.

Helping people to find somewhere to stay

With public transport cancelled many people found themselves stranded in the CBD. A Facebook page sprung up quickly to help people connect with others with spare beds. Over a few hours it grew to over 3,200 likes and offers of accommodation were pouring in.

At work a similar process happened on our company channels and before I left Auckland I knew I had a bed to stay in if I did need to stay in town. Quite a relief!

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.27.44 pm

Another Facebook Page Wellington Floods, sharing photos and footage of the carnage, reached over 12,000 likes.

Information on road conditions 

When I landed in Wellington I was still unsure whether the road home had been reopened. One quick look at the @NZTAWgtn account answered all my questions. I could see recent updates on the roads plus replies to people wanting information on their personal routes home. I was able to see that my drive home was open and how long it was taking other people. It was quick, reliable and very helpful.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.47.05 pm

When I landed I could see real time information on the @NZTAWgtn account and decided to drive home as a result.

When I landed I could see real time information on the @NZTAWgtn account and decided to drive home as a result.

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office were also tweeting lots of helpful info throughout the day.

Breaking news 

#StormNZ ended in tragedy with an 80-year old man drowning in the flood waters. I saw this breaking news as a series of tweets. It was later that I saw the news confirmed on a news site.

Recently Google and Facebook helped survivors of the Nepal earthquakes find missing friends and family. While on a much smaller scale it was interesting to experience first hand the power of social media during natural disasters. It’s events like this that make the technology shine while showing the best of human nature.

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