As I write this blog in my office in northeastern Ohio, I am watching the rain continue to fall for the third day. By the time you read this tomorrow or whenever, 60 million people along the East coast will be experiencing or recovering from the impact of the “Frankenstorm,” Sandy, which is scheduled to hit land Monday evening, October 29. Flooding, property damage, and power outages are to be expected especially from the high winds. We pray that there will be no loss of human life.
Times like these remind us how precious our lives are and how quickly they can be upended by nature’s violent behavior or other large scale emergencies. They also remind us how important local, state, and federal governments, agencies, church and neighborhood organizations and caring individuals are in helping people get through these calamitous experiences. Without this help, many people especially the poor, the infirm, the elderly and children suffer even more.
The media provides a great service when it gets the warnings out so that people can make prudent preparations and when it reports the path of the storm and highlights ongoing or unmet needs, gets updates from the power companies and other services to help people deal with the uncertainties.
Radio has been and still is a great source of information and help in these times—as many people can access it in their cars, and with battery operated receivers. TV gives the rest of the nation and even the world pictures and stories of disaster and courageous response. And now the Internet and social media take their place in communications/help/and caring efforts.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has a website, a mobile website, Facebook and Twitter sites, and a free mobile app to help people prepare, get through and then get assistance when emergency events occur. The American Red Cross also has a website, Facebook and Twitter sites and a Hurricane app to educate people, get them informed, collect donations and organize relief efforts. Catholic Charities USA and its Local Agencies are helping people prepare for the hurricane, collecting donations and putting in place assistance to those who will be in need. They have a website, Facebook and Twitter sites. These are just a few examples of online resources. Then of course, all of the various news outlets have websites, blogs, and social media sites covering the story as well.
Cell phones—keep the batteries charged—have been a great aide to people communicating with loved ones, getting assistance and providing help. Smart Phone users have the added advantage of access to apps as mentioned above and to websites and social media to keep informed about events and to be able to share their own experiences via photos and posts. The ability to be connected with loved ones is one of the biggest comforts a person can have at a time of disaster.
The New Media can be fun and games, but it can also be a life-saving tool for many. It is at times like this that we can appreciate its availability to us and those we care about. We pray for all of the people who will be impacted by Sandy and the many, many people who will come together to meet their needs.
Do you know of other online resources that help bring resources to those impacted by this disaster? Please share them below.
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net