Posts Tagged ‘disasters’

Blog 5: Community Resilience

When disaster strikes, communities receive attention and support. Response to these events can provide much needed assistance, but what about when the spotlight leaves the victims? Communities still remain affected, and just because an event fades from the news cycle, does not mean it has not permanently affected a community.

When an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011, the national media swarmed in to cover the response. Long after these satellite trucks left, the community showed signs of resilience.

An argument is made that resilience doesn’t come without hiccups.

Lasting as long as several weeks…some distress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event.

The distress of an event leads a community to adapt — a central point in establishing resilience. A community, in order to move on from a disaster, must be able to absorb the shock, redirect the energy in a positive way, and then adapt. It must use the situation in a way that will allow the community to build on what has happened.

Communities that have strong social capital are most likely to adapt. In the case of Joplin, a town that had a closely knit community fabric was able to bond together, respond to the disaster, and quickly find enough help to clear the disaster zone. Joplin had social capital in the sense that the town had no seams tearing it apart before its fabric had to withstand the winds of a terrible tornado.

To access social capital, one of the primary resources of any community, local people must be engaged meaningfully in every step of the mitigation process.

Harnessing social capital bleeds into other areas of resilience in disaster response. With a strong social capital, communities can develop the support needed for everything else: economic resources, organizational networks, interventions, and action plans.


Community Resilience

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Community resilience is the ability of the community to bounce back after an event has occurred. In order for a community to be resilient actions must be taken before an event to ensure that the community responds in an appropriate manner. Communities that are educated in this way before the event will be able to successfully help the community members afterwards.

Some communications strategies may be able to aid in the increase of community resilience, one of which is making sure that they community works together as a whole. Communities are often made up of many groups:


Community Leadership

Cultual & Faith-Based Groups and Orgs

First Responders

Health Care


Mental Health

Public Health

School personnel & Childcare Settings

These groups are like puzzle pieces, as they work to fit together, they create an image or in the case of this blog a common goal.These groups must focus on elements including shared values, participation, responsibilities, support, critical reflection, resources, and most importantly communication.

Blog #4: Twitter, Facebook, and disasters

October 31, 2011 1 comment

As someone who uses Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis, I feel that using those outlets are very beneficial to keeping the public updated with a crisis.  Considering how quickly information spreads on these mediums and how many people tune into them for that information, it allows for help and assistance to get to followers. During disasters, its a high time for people to want to get into contact with loved ones, and which in turn causes cell phone usage to be almost impossible.  This website has a blog that talks about how Twitter use is a positive outlet during disasters.

For example, I asked around some of my friends who are just as big of advocates as I am for social media in disasters, and my friend Laura said following Twitter during a disaster kept her posted.

“During the tornado that was going through Sedalia and heading toward Jefferson City, I followed The Weather Channel on Twitter to keep me updated on the storm.  If I had not been kept up to date on the disaster, I would not have been as prepared as I was.”

When it comes to Facebook, I think that people use that outlet for more personalized opinions on disasters, instead of where Twitter keeps things to 140 characters and tells the information, if you are referring to disasters.  Although I feel that Twitter may be the more efficient type, Facebook and FEMA offer tips on how to communicate during disasters.

Overall, social media these days are one of the primary ways that our generation and the generations to come will communicate with each other about disasters.  It allows people to spread information needed, and also talk about their opinions and reactions to the disasters.

Blog 4: Social Media and Disaster Communication

October 31, 2011 2 comments

Social media has become one of the greatest tools in today’s world.  Almost everyone has some type of social media network that they are a part of.  Thus, social media has become an essential part of disaster communication.  Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been extremely useful both before, during, and after all types of disasters.  It is a way to get information out quickly and efficiently.  Since, Facebook and Twitter are user friendly, anyone can get the information that they need to know as well as post their own information they may find important before, during,or after a crisis.


According to an article written in The Telegraph, ”By sharing images, texting and tweeting, the public is already becoming part of a large response network, rather than remaining mere bystanders or casualties,” said the US team led by Dr Raina Merchant, an emergency medicine expert from the University of Pennsylvania.  Part of being a part of the response network, is that people have more control over what they know and information that they need to get out to others.

An example of the primary use of social media network, was in March 2011, right after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  The primary source of communication was Facebook and Twitter. According to an article written by Jewel Samad in Time Magazine, “to send warnings, ask for help and relay bits of information from the scene as well as to announce that they were safe. According to Mashable, only an hour after the earthquake, more than 1,200 tweets per minute were being sent from Tokyo.” Hashtags like #prayforjapan, #earthquake and #tsunami trended almost instantly, and were being tweeted thousands of times per second by people all over the globe, according to Poynter. And not surprisingly, Twitter reported both a record number of tweets the day of the quake (177 million) and accounts added one day after (572,000, as opposed to the daily average of 460,000).

Twitter and Facebook were both able to be used as relief and fund raising tools as well.  Also, it was a tool of communication between friends and families, to let them know where they are and that they were safe.  They are also a steady stream of information of breaking news.  When something major happens, even across the globe, the whole world reads about it in their newsfeeds only minutes after it happens.  With this type of efficiency and response, it makes communication much easier in times of crisis.

FEMA also has a Twitter page that has many tips every day for different types of preparations people can be doing at any time.  They want to have people prepared and notified before, during, and after any disaster.  There are many other different Twitter and Facebook pages that people can follow in order to be updated with any information. Every major and even minor news station has social media sites so that people can get their news as quick as possible. In today’s day and age, it is amazing that we can know what is happening around the world in a matter of seconds.  This has proven to be beneficial in times of crises and for major disasters.

Blog 4: Social Media in Disasters

October 31, 2011 1 comment

As an avid social media user, I think that Facebook, Twitter and other social media resources could be very beneficial to use during a disaster response. Social media may be seen as a fad to many, however I believe that it’s changing the way that we can communicate to friends, co-workers, customers, etc. It’s a great resource to use, and I think that many people are fearful of accepting that it’s a growing tool in the world of communication.

As the video shows, social media is more than a fad. It’s a resource that must be utilized. At one point it mentions that “we no longer find the news, the news finds us.” I find this to be absolutely true. Personally, I find out the majority of my news through Twitter or Facebook. I follow a variety of news accounts all over the country and find that I hear about things quicker via online resources. Even with a group of friends I feel like if they tell me about something, they too have typically heard if first from a social media outlet.

The info-graph above shows how social media has been used in disasters in the past. This is a great depiction of how social media is already being utilized. As it continues to grow in popularity, so will the uses for it. YouTube can be used to show videos of evacuation processes or safety tips before the crisis occurs, while Twitter may be used before during or after. Facebook may be used in the same way. Of course the use of social media depends on availability, however that should not keep organizations like FEMA and the Red Cross for utilizing them and providing resources to those who do have access to social media.

Blog 3: FEMA Training

October 19, 2011 1 comment

I think that both of the FEMA training courses fit very well with this course. It’s one thing to just sit and learn from a book about crisis communication, but to actually apply it and see examples is very beneficial, especially to those interested in going into crisis communication. They go more in depth than our textbook does, and provides us with more updated information. I particularly found the second training to be a lot easier to understand, and felt that they didn’t try to cram as much information as they did in the first one.

I’ve included a video below that shows the role of a FEMA employee. Decisions made by him will effect people, and I think that is an extremely important thing to remember in crisis communication. These types of training course are important in that they may help to save the lives of people who are facing a crisis, and teach the important roles that those involved must play.

Both the ICS training and NIMS training provide insite into how these systems work to provide a systematic approach to how FEMA and other organizations work together to reduce the loss of life, property ad harm to the environment. It is necessary to know how these systems work in order to successfully deal with a crisis situation.

Blog 2: The Role of Communication in the ICS

September 14, 2011 1 comment

One of the most important aspects in the Incident Command System is communication.  Without it, the ICS will not be nearly as effective.  Like any organization, if communication falls through the cracks the organization will not be able to accomplish their mission, whether it be helping communities get through a crisis, a teacher talking to students, or anything in between. The ICS need to have communication between the members and communities, and communication between all the members.  For example, according to the FEMA’s website.

“The Unified Command organization consists of the Incident Commanders from the various jurisdictions or agencies operating together to form a single command structure in the field.”

With so many people coming together, it is important that communication is one of their top priorities. The better the communication is, the better the organization will be able to operate.  It is also crucial that organizations such as the ICS communicate with the surrounding community.  They need to tell people what to do, how to do it, and how the ICS will help them.

Communication is important for any well-functioning organization.  Without proper communication, instructions won’t be heard, information may be missed, and chaos may very well follow.  The ICS is such an important organization, they need to make sure members are communicating with each other and with the outside community.