When you think of a big storm, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably power outages. People without power probably don’t have a working modem, and cannot watch television. Unfortunately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency didn’t think of this when they put out instructions for getting help to those in Hurricane Sandy’s path. They aren’t the only ones, either.
Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.
None of the major cable or local news channels put emergency phone numbers or key radio station frequencies on their screens. The only phone-related instructions on the homepage of ready.gov is how to get monthly disaster-prep text messages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency told the public via Twitter to use texts and social media outlets to stay informed.
TV and radio are still the primary methods of getting information about Hurricane Sandy to the public, but social media are increasingly important to those efforts, FEMA chief Craig Fugate said Monday.
“With these types of storms, you get a lot of this is going to be carried out through the traditional TV and radio media,” Fugate told reporters on a conference call. “But we’re using a lot more social media, we’re using everything from Facebook to Twitter. I think there’s a higher degree of awareness that people have of the storm is coming and what the impacts are going to be.” (Read More)
Not everyone has a smart phone, and even those with smart phones will eventually run out of battery power when there is no electricity. As John Nolte pointed out, the people who would be most in need of assistance are the ones least likely to have the latest technology.
The biggest failure here is that the most vulnerable storm victims, the elderly, are all asking themselves, “What’s a social media?” ….
Maybe if the White House had been paying more attention to the basics instead of the optics, who knows how many people currently sitting in a dark house and watching their mobile phone battery die would know what to do.
Yeah, that would have been nice.