Agencies use Facebook, Twitter to spread hurricane info
National Hurricane Center adds thousands of fans on Facebook in recent weeks
Federal preparedness officials and agencies are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools to provide updates on Hurricane Irene, which is heading for the East Coast, and how to be ready for it.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, become a familiar face to visitors to the agency’s website this week with his video messages about the approaching wind and rain.
“Remember, hurricanes are not just a Southern thing,” Fugate said in a video message posted Aug. 23 on FEMA’s website. He also has put out dozens of messages on his Twitter account and the FEMA blog and Facebook page.
Hurricane Center tries out Facebook, Twitter
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“Got a plan? Got supplies? Ready to evacuate if ordered? Good, you are in charge, not Irene,” Fugate tweeted Aug. 25.
The National Weather Service’s Hurricanes.gov is a main hub of federal hurricane-related activity on the Web, providing the latest forecasts, and its material is being linked regularly on Facebook, Twitter and other federal websites.
Meanwhile, fans appear to be rushing to “like” the federal hurricane-related sites on Facebook, which have soared in popularity in recent weeks.
In early June, the Commerce Department’s National Hurricane Center Facebook page had about 17,000 fans. As of Aug. 25, the page had 80,336 fans.
Other popular Facebook sites include the National Weather Service, with 73,265 fans; and FEMA, with 50,524 fans. Facebook’s own DC Live page, which has 43,042 fans, produced a video on Hurricane Irene with the National Weather Service, Health and Human Services Department and American Red Cross.
On Twitter, the hurricane center’s Atlantic Coast feed (@NHC_Atlantic) currently has 26,374 followers.
With Facebook and Twitter updates being published by the federal agencies, hundreds of fans and followers were writing and tweeting in response.
"Good luck all and stay safe," one commenter wrote on the hurricane center's Facebook page. "I'm in Chesapeake VA right near Virginia Beach and I want Irene to leave!" added another.
Another commenter was upset that 154 people had "liked" the center's latest update predicting a more powerful storm. "Who the hell likes this update? Probably people who live nowhere near where it is going to hit," was one response.
But others kept their humor. "Hello Irene," was a post on the National Weather Service's Facebook page.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.