To all those who have found no redeeming aspect of social networking: here’s a little story for you.
As severe weather Monday evening rolled through Oklahoma, it quickly became apparent there was a dangerous situation developing. The storms produced high winds, frequent lightning, heavy rain (though generally brief) and sometimes hail.
Even in the early reports from those who make their livings forecasting, tracking and evaluating storms, it was very apparent that Oklahoma winds were causing devastation once again. When you live here, you expect it. It’s even in our state song: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain … ”
But Oklahoma wind often is devastating, such as it was Monday night.
And so it was that I joined a group of current and former Ponca City and Enid residents in discussing what was happening in those areas. We hooked up on Facebook and began sharing information we were collecting from various sources, newspaper and TV web sites to wire services, from local police and fire departments to weather observers, and from residents themselves … those who still had electrical service or phones that allowed them to access the social network.
Over the course of the next three to four hours, we were able to get updates relating to communities within a large grid that was bounded roughly on the west from Meno south to Lawton, on the north from Meno to Ponca City, on the east from Ponca City to Ada, and from the south from Ada to Lawton. That’s a pretty fair chunk of real estate, if you check the map.
We were able to update each other on conditions and situations within that area, with all of us having family and friends in that grid. And here’s an interesting note. Some of those contributing weren’t even close to the storm-damaged area. One was in Florida, a couple in Texas, one in Kansas. They were communicating with their contacts in the “danger zone” whenever they could get through, then passing along the information.
The information these people collected and shared was helpful to those who lost power (such as near and in Enid, Ponca City, Perry, Stillwater, Piedmont and some parts of the Oklahoma City metro). Plus, the Facebooks sites for electric cooperatives and municipal governments were putting out updates and notices quickly. This information was relayed to those who could not sign on.
At one point, some 30 or so people were conversing and assisting. It was, indeed a joint effort. A good one. A beneficial one.
So next time you hear someone bashing the ridiculous, extreme use of social networking, remember the positives and ride out the storm.
See updates on the weather situation in Oklahoma on http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma