Facebook, Twitter fight the flood: Sites new way to get the word out
The flood of 1997 was just 12 years ago, but how we communicate and organize has advanced light-years since then. Back in 1997, most people didn't have handy access to the Internet, e-mail or even a cell phone. Now help is just a click away. Toda...
The flood of 1997 was just 12 years ago, but how we communicate and organize has advanced light-years since then.
Back in 1997, most people didn't have handy access to the Internet,
e-mail or even a cell phone. Now help is just a click away.
Today, social networking sites, blogs and photo- and video-hosting sites are all used to get the word out on where help is needed.
After First Link sent Kevin Tobosa an e-mail calling for flood helpers, he started a Fargo-Moorhead Flood Volunteer Network on Facebook, a popular social networking site. He invited his 221 friends to stay connected to flood-related announcements. In just a week, it ballooned to 3,920 members and continues to grow.
Tobosa said these new means of sharing information aren't taking the place of more traditional forms of communication, but are another way of getting the word out, especially for younger people.
"All those people out on spring break - they weren't checking their newspapers, but they were checking Facebook pages," he said.
Tobosa was reached while taking a break from sandbagging on River Drive in Fargo. He said within an hour of the homeowner putting out a call on Facebook, 50 people showed up.
Even those not organizing the fight are posting flood-related info on Facebook.
"This has been a great forum for keeping the out-of-town family and friends informed about what is going on, and letting everyone know which store has water, boots, etc.," said Kelly Niebauer Savelkoul, whose status update was a supportive "big shout out to all the moms who are rocking the flood effort!"
Likewise, such sites also document the flood.
Images are posted on individual blogs, Flickr and YouTube, from amateur filmmakers to organizers for the Red Cross.
And the information isn't just coming from those areas affected by flooding.
From Mountain View, Calif., 1,800 miles away from Fargo, Troy Elseth posts hourly Red River levels on his Twitter feed. The North Dakota State University alum has a vested interest in the flood - he closes on an Elm Street house May 1.
He started the feed, redriveratfargo, March 20, and he already has 168 followers.
"I look at it as my way of helping, because I appreciate everyone pitching in to help save the town," he said. "I love Fargo, so it's the best I can do from way out here."
When the river eventually falls within its banks, Elseth said he may keep the feed going, but only update it "weekly or monthly, until it needs to be hourly - hopefully in many, many, many years."
A flood of followers
As an example of how new methods are changing the way we communicate today, inforum.com, The Forum's Web site, on Monday set an all-time one-day record for people coming to it, with about 150,000 visitors viewing almost 830,000 pages.
Those one-day figures eclipse all the traffic the site saw for the entire month leading up to flooding in 1997.