Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Laura Click in downtown Nashville. She had an incredible story about how people used the social web to pull together amidst the greatest catastrophe in the city’s history and was kind enough to share her story with the {grow} community. If you would like to donate to the flood relief effort, I will match your contribution up to a total of $1,000. Honor system – I trust you.  Just send me a DM on Twitter and tell me what you donated and I will match it.  I’ll post a running total in this spot throughout the day. Current reader donations total $855 + match = $1,710. Here is Laura’s post:

In the wake of the catastrophic flooding throughout Nashville last weekend, social media has proven to be an essential communications tool throughout the crisis. In my experience, the most relevant and up-to-date information came from blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

During last Sunday’s storm, 44,000 Nashvillians were without power (myself included). The only way I was able to receive critical information about the severe weather advisories and the growing flood problem was through Twitter and Facebook on my phone.

In the days following the storm and subsequent flooding, my social media circle has continued to keep me informed about road closures, the need to conserve water and how to volunteer with relief efforts. It has been amazing to see the exchange of important, timely information take place online.

The Nashville flood has proven that you don’t need to be a journalist to share valuable information during a crisis. Thousands of citizens have used social media to share their first-hand accounts of the flood. Simply follow the #nashvilleflood hashtag on Twitter and you’ll see a real-time conversation about where help is needed most, photos of the damage throughout the city and positive stories of people who’ve made a difference.

Social media has also amplified how individuals, groups and businesses have found their own unique ways to help flood victims. While some of these efforts have been covered in traditional media, most groups have used Twitter, Facebook and blogs to get the word out. Here are some great examples of the work being done throughout Nashville that have been heavily promoted online:

  • Web site resource. A group of web developers and bloggers banded together to create Donate Nashville, a Web site where flood victims can request assistance or needed items, and volunteers can find ways to donate time and money.
  • Nashville flood t-shirts & posters. A number of graphic designers have created t-shirts and posters with proceeds benefitting a variety of charities supporting flood relief efforts.
  • Business discounts and donations. Many local businesses and restaurants have donated portions of their sales to charities or offered discounts to volunteers.

If it weren’t for social media, many people wouldn’t know about Nashville’s flood disaster. As other bloggers have noted, it took days for the national media to sit up and take notice. And when they did, I credit social media for getting them here.

Some bloggers have received huge national exposure because they did the leg work before the national media arrived. For instance, a post entitled “We are Nashville” from a local hockey blogger has received more than 900 comments and was even mentioned on The Huffington Post.

If you ever question the power of social media, look at how it has been used to connect people during a crisis.

Just ask the people of Nashville.

Laura Click is a marketing consultant in Nashville, Tenn. You can find out more about Laura at www.lauraclick.com, or by following @lauraclick on Twitter.

Image credit: Nashville Flood Tees

 

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