Why Twitter?

That’s a question my mom asked this past weekend.

She knows that I’ve been on twitter for several years now. She’s seen my pictures from the NASA Tweetup, heard about the folks I’ve met and wondered all along about my imaginary internet friends. So she asked again.

This past week I’ve been crazy while on Twitter. With the tornadoes, I’ve been trying to help out however I could. I’ve seen the ability of twitter to make a difference in past disasters and other events. Its able to be a big help to spread the word. Its also can spread rumors and mis-information.

During bad weather, I’ve seen the weather information spread so folks had it. And when tornadoes hit on April 15th, Twitter was a big help in spreading the word about problem weather locations around the state. I’ve passed the word on in previous bad weather occurrences, so I was prepared to do the same on the 27th.

My tweet count prior to April 27th was less than 19,800. In the week since then I have tweeted close to 1,000 times. Most of these tweets have been storm and relief effort related.

So I found a new analogy for my mom. I told her that what I was doing on twitter was similar to what Ham radio operators do during emergencies relaying information on to others. And the Ham radio analogy works on a number of levels. It is identifiable and known.

So why Twitter? Because its a way to connect with people. And because I can help other people with it.

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Additional ways to help Tornado Relief

Clean up is going to take years. And the cost will run in the billions. So if you are looking to make a difference, here are some more places to help out.

The Alabama Food Bank Association is helping with efforts to feed those who have lost and those who are helping out. You can go to the web site to set up a donation to help in any region.

A local web site for my neighborhood, the 35212, is helping to coordinate volunteer efforts in Birmingham. They are updating regularly with specific needs for items and volunteers.

From Twitter, the Alabama State Bar has a disaster assistance hotline at 1-800-354-6154 to assist folks in storm-affected communities with legal needs.

The Christian Service Mission has a wish list on Amazon of relief supplies that are needed.

One of the local weathermen is continuing to help with storm recovery. James Spann is using his popularity and reach to help spread the word about needs and services available. He is using his facebook page as a clearinghouse for relief information.

Every little bit makes a difference. Thanks for helping out!

April 27th Tornados

Those of you who follow me on twitter know that things have been crazy here in Alabama since last Wednesday. We had horrible tornados and destruction that have touched almost everyone here.

Given the expected severe weather, both DH and I were sent home from work before the weather line came through Birmingham. We prepared the basement for a long evening. We made sure that the weather radio was accessible, that we had working flashlights, that there were oil lamps and matches available, and that we had cat treats to keep the kitties downstairs with us.

DH was monitoring the tv, and I had gotten online and was keeping up with twitter. When the tornado in Tuscaloosa started and was caught on the live tower cams, all we could do was watch in horror. Then a bit later as we watched the projected storm track, we made plans for a possible hit to our house by a major tornado. Fortunately for us, the storm cell turned, but that means there are other neighborhoods that have been destroyed.

I tried to be helpful on twitter, passing along information about the weather. I was told that one of my followers was glad to have the information that I helped to share.

The current death toll is 250 for just the state of Alabama. With the efforts of all the meteorologists, it would have been so much worse. Two thirds of the state of Alabama had damage from storms on April 27th. The same system did damage across the entire southeast. Its going to take years to recover from these tornados. Now I can be helpful here.

First, if you have the where with all, please make a donation of some kind to one of the reputable relief agencies. The Red Cross is helping out. You can text “RED CROSS” to 90999 to make a donation of $10.00. Obviously money is the most flexible donation, and can be directed to the most urgent need. Hands on Birmingham is coordinating volunteer efforts in the Birmingham area. In addition to people’s needs, there are a very large number of pets that have been displaced. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society is helping to organize that effort.

There are lots of ways to help out. Keep an eye on my tweet stream. As I get word of them, I pass opportunities along. And please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. Its incredible what has happened and what the various people have endured.