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Twitter and Gustav-The value of micro-blogging just went up.

Where was Twitter during Katrina was all I could think over the weekend. And for good reason too. Being a former New Orleanian, it pained me to watch not only the network coverage of Katrina, but also the lack of information and the disinformation flowing in and out. Thanks to Twitter I felt I had a better handle on what was going on in the city and its surrounding areas during Hurricane Gustav instead of relying solely on Jim Cantore. Sorry Jim.

Over the course of the last 3 days, I found myself doing the following: Tapping into #Gustav on Summize while watching the Weather Channel, texting and tweeting to friends and family who still lived on the Gulf Coast and who had evacuated (some did not), what I was learning from others via Twitter, and then sharing and pushing that information back and forth with others through my tweets. I felt like I was participating in another of David Alson’s and Chris Brogan’s Twebinars, only this one had larger ramifications. In fact,  I knew of the Industrial Canal starting to spill over a full 20-30 minutes before it was broadcast on CNN and the Weather Channel, and that was scarry cool.

Even post Gustav, valuable and credible ( most of it) information is and was flowing through Twitter faster than you if were hoping to hear it on the radio, read it in the newspaper or hope to get it from your local television broadcasts. Twitter ID’s had been created specifically devoted to Gustav  such as @GustavReporter which were some Chicago Tribune reporters covering Hurricane Gustav, but they still were providing reliable and informative tweets. Another was local @MarkMayhew whose tweets from the Quarter were dead on during the height of the storms landfall, and @YatPundit whose tweets before, during and after the storm have been and had been invaluable!

The point is this, Twitter was providing very very informative and real time information without the hyperbole that often accompanies the national broadcasts.  The tweets were coming from people on the ground and in the city. With only 140 characters, one has a tendency to only tell you what is most important without the descriptives, if you know what I mean.

Twitter is also bridging the communications gaps between people that want to help and might not know how or who to contact. Since the storm has come ashore, countless tweets have come over of people and organizations who want to help and are essentially tweeting their availability. Sans the pitch and sans the B.S. Simply real time tweets from people who can help, who can share their experiences, who were there, who’ve been there, and who are there. It doesn’t get more real time than that! At the least, I think Twitter passes the test as a major form of communicating during extreme circumstances like a Cat 3 storm.

I know all of you at some point were paying attention to what was going on down here on the Gulf Coast, but did it dawn on any of you to follow the tweets? I’m curious.

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5 Responses to “Twitter and Gustav-The value of micro-blogging just went up.”


  1. 1 Warren Sukernek September 2, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Excellent article on the use of Twitter as a communication tool during an emergency/ catastrophe. By marrying a simple, cheap and fast tool with an active community, we were able to bridge the communications gap. It’s no wonder that progressive organizations like the LAFD, http://twitter.com/lafd and the Red Cross, http://twitter.com/redcross rely on Twitter.

  2. 2 YatPundit September 6, 2008 at 1:51 am

    am glad I could be of help to folks outside the NOLA area. I managed to keep power and broadband access until about 0900 on Monday. Even when we lost power (a common event in a storm of this size), my T-Mobile phone signal stayed up, so I was able to continue to use twitter.

  3. 3 louisianaquestions September 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Did it.

  4. 4 Gara March 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Just got into Twitter mode a couple weeks ago…did not know about it till my daughter-in-law asked me to join. As much time as I spend with iphone in hand & with time on web, I can’t believe I didn’t know about Tweeting. I am an avid weather follower, esp. when hurricane season rolls round so you can bet I’ll be in tune with hurricane tweeting this year! Greatest thing since the “internets” came into being!


  1. 1 Weekly Headlines: September 3 « Sarah’s Blog Trackback on September 3, 2008 at 4:05 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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