Australian Cyclone Brings Thousands To Facebook & Twitter

If it wasn’t enough that Queensland, Australia, have just had to deal with the horrific floods wiping out entire neighbourhoods and innocent people losing their lives, but in the wake of Cyclone Yasi, they are yet again faced with a huge clear-up operation. Following on from Yasi’s path of destruction, Australians turned to social media to express the events as they unfolded. Some 23,141 tweets from over 10,000 individual users were processed during the past 24 hours. Neighbouring networking site Facebook was no different, seeing some 90,000 members logging onto the Cyclone Yasi Update page, one of 25 set up.

At a time when people would be scared and unsure as to what to do and who to turn to, social media has formed an important communication tool for those concerned. SR7, a company that specialises in social media and how it is used, has stated that the idea of social media has to be understood and as they said forms an “integral part of crisis management for governments.” Following on from this, it was said that as well as the everyday person turning to sites, Queensland Police have found the sites a useful basis for directing the public as to what and where to go.

As reported, news sources played a huge part guiding those affected, but people have been able to access these sites with the aid of their mobile phones. As Thomas Tudehope from SR7 stated, “The sheer volume of traffic on Twitter is not only a reflection of the sheer scale of the disaster but also on the desire for information sharing at a highly localised level.”

On turning to Twitter, subscribers used hashtags such as #cyclone, #roof and #tcyasi. Tweets from users included one from Flopsy91 who said, “Just went for a drive around to check on grandparents house ect. South mission is just devastated. The trees look like toothpicks.” Another from Hyperskip said, “#TCYasi scared the hell out of my sis and her crew in Mission Beach, but so far no major damage. I’m so relieved.”

As the reported, the worst hit areas were that of Mission Beach, Tully and Cardwell where numbers of houses have been destroyed. Consequently the 190mph winds have caused phone and power lines to be down resulting in over 180,000 houses without electricity.

Were you one of those affected by Cyclone Yasi? Can you see the benefits of social media being used in this way? Let us know.