You Betcha: Fargo Using Social Media To Fight Flooding

Mar 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Microblogging, The New Media Update

Heavy winter snowfall in the northern Midwestern US, followed by warm temperatures, rain, and more snow has caused ice jams in the Red River, which have in turn begun to cause flooding in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

The Associated Press is reporting that Fargo, North Dakota, residents are using e-mail and social networking sites to keep one another up to date on the flooding, and also to mobilize volunteers to fight the rising river levels:

“When city officials needed volunteers at other dikes, [Fargo resident Kevin] Tobosa suggested setting up a Facebook group. By Thursday, it had attracted more than 4,550 members and was constantly picking up new ones.

“We really need volunteers again today to get the dikes buttoned up and fill the rest of the sandbags,” read a message sent to the group Thursday.”

In addition to calls for help via Facebook, others are using microblogging site Twitter to keep people up to date.

@FargoFloodStage and @CityOfFargo give regular updates of current conditions and needs in the community. Interestingly, @CityOfFargo is not an official city Twitter account, but one run by a citizen trying to keep on top of the flood information. Adding to the up-to-the-moment news, nearby journalists like The Uptake’s Jason Barnett are relaying news (see tweet, above).

Besides serving as a handy tool for marshaling volunteers and warning residents of the immediate area, social media sites also offer a close-up view of the action for people who are concerned, but do not live nearby.

Social media sites are well-suited for disseminating breaking news, for mobilizing support or urging action on an issue, and also for providing on-the-ground commentary. In the last year or so, we’ve utilized these soc med resources heavily, first during Iowa’s Presidential Caucus season, and later in 2008, when catastrophic record flooding threatened many areas across Iowa. I also especially enjoy following sessions at conferences (which I’m not even attending!), by scanning my Twitter stream for updates by participants.

What are some other constructive or innovative uses for Facebook and Twitter, and other social programs?

Photo: Flooding in Fargo, ND, by US Army Corps of Engineers

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3 Responses to “You Betcha: Fargo Using Social Media To Fight Flooding”

  1. […] 26, 2009 · No Comments Fargo residents are using email and social networks like Facebook and Twitter to prepare for the incoming monster […]

  2. […] Fargo residents are using email, Facebook, and Twitter to mobilize against the incoming monster flood and to keep each other notified. […]

  3. Nancy Hennen says:

    I was honoured to take part, to help in whatever way we could from here. I will continue to do all I can to get the words out until /and/or IF? Grand Forks makes it through this. Thanks for your story.

    Nancy H. Hennen

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