October 29th, 2012. Marco is an Italian Economics graduate working as assistant curator in one of New York’s upmarket art galleries. He lives alone in his flat at 75 Wall street. Like million other Manhattan citizens, his residence is within the evacuation zone. He lives on the 32nd floor, so the order is not binding. He bides his time.
He’s in touch with family over the phone and email but has difficulties reaching his parents, on a trip in India. When Sandy hits and the power dies in Lower Manhattan, he’s effectively trapped in his building. He’s no in immediate danger but has to face the issue of food and generally communicating with the outside world.
The power failure has robbed him of a vital source but strangely his best chance is still linked to digital electronics. Through email and Skype on his faltering laptop he connects with an aunt in Italy. She manages to get in touch with a Facebook friend in New York who knows Marco. She will shelter him, provided he can get to their house. Marco’s aunt gets the message across on Facebook to Marco: his laptop dies with the news and his mobile performs a last heroic act by lighting part of his way down from the 32nd floor to the street. It’s quite a hike from there but he’s young and fit and soon reaches shelter in a powered-up part of town. He even manages to recharge his mobile at a local Starbucks and call the helpful friend to signal his arrival.
There were hundreds of thousands of stories like Marco’s in and around Sandy’s outbreak, and sadly many of them were dramatic, involving the loss of friends and relatives or the destruction of homes.
A shared feature of many of them was how the digital cloud that envelops us, though battered and scattered by Sandy, did not fail altogether. Enough sources, enough connections, enough networks were in place to spread news, show images, advise folks and give practical help to weather the storm.
From Google Crisis maps showing (among other things) how much fuel there was available in which filling stations, from news channels relaying the directives of public organizations, to the hundreds of thousands of personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts of how the storm was survived. The fabric of digital social connectivity was strong and played an important part in bringing relief during and after the storm.
Experiences like that of Marco and countless others tell the individual part of the tale, where social networks and the web combined to help. Just how useful the web was in dealing with the emergency is shown us by the stats for Google searches: “Hurricane Sandy updates” had over 2.000.000 searches on 29th of October and topped the day’s list, leading the 1.000.000 plus searches on the “Weather Channel”; Hurricane Sandy had topped the previous day’s list too, with over 2.000.000 searches, with “Sandy” in second place with over 1.000.000 searches.
If you need help, you can always get some on the web, and if you want a friendly touch with it, just connect to Facebook or Twitter or tens of others. The “social” aspect of digital media is the new frontier.
This post is written by Mark Jenkins and he works at CouponAudit as a writer, where thousands of valid and working online coupons for different stores are available including but not limited to orbitz promo code and various other online stores.
I'm Louida from Atlanta, Georgia and I'm a mother of two daughters, and a full-time blogger/influencer.
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