3 Ways #yyc Used Social Media to Beat the Flood

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m sitting in my apartment. I can’t go to work until Wednesday so I’ve given myself some time to reflect on the events of this past week. Instead of focusing on the devastation, damage, and chaos that our city has endured (and is still enduring), I’ve been thinking about how amazing our city is. #yyc really came together and showed that we are more than just a city. We are a community of people that care for each other. Calgarians used social media to effectively provide up-to-the-minute updates, support, and even just kind words to the people that needed it most. Here’s how our city did it:

1. Just the Right Amount of Communication by the Calgary Police on Twitter

The @CalgaryPolice did an amazing job on Twitter. They announced evacuation sites, road closures, and answered thousands of questions, all while emitting a sense of confidence. Their voice and tone in all of their tweets was calming and it was if they were saying “Hey, we’ve got this in the bag. Just listen to us.” The account gained over 40 thousand followers in a matter of days and helped people via 7,000+ tweets. They provided us with maps, live pictures, and success stories to inform and calm us. And hey, we even got the ‘Ridiculously Photogenic Fireman‘ out of it. There’s nothing bad about that.

2. Overwhelming Volunteerism

People all over Southern Alberta have been using Kijiji to open their homes and provide services to those in need. People have also set up Facebook pages and events to promote neighbourhood clean up and any other type of support. It’s really neat to see Calgary and area leveraging these online platforms to help each other. Calgary has so many people trying to volunteer that organizers are turning people away. How crazy is that?! Calgary has been showing how much it really cares by using online channels to help in real-life.

3. Strong Civic Leadership from Nenshi

Nenshi is a machine. He works so incredibly hard for this city. So hard that Twitter users created a hashtag, #Nap4Nenshi, to convince him to take a rest because he went 43 hours without sleep. Throughout this crisis, Naheed has handled everything while being a calm leader for the rest of us. He has found the perfect balance between too many updates and not enough. He got on the news, in blogs, on Twitter, and on any other channel he could utilize to communicate with his people.

And it doesn’t stop with him. People are inspired by Naheed. Because of him, so many good things are happening for this city and the people that have been effected by the flood. One of the cooler things I have seen is badportraitproject.com. They are selling ‘Scuba Nenshi’ t-shirts with all proceeds going to Red Cross Alberta Flood Relief. If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.

If you want to buy a shirt, you can click here.

So, rather than dwelling on all the negative aspects of this flood we are able to learn a lot from it. We have learned that our city is filled with resourceful, friendly, and loving people. We saw that social media can be used for more than just sharing what you ate for lunch – it can be used to mobilize communities and neighbours, keep people informed and reduce confusion through 140 character messaging. Lastly, we learned that our city is run by one of the strongest, most inspirational individuals who can keep us calm in an emergency. Thank you Calgary.