Social media was the go-to for many when Hurricane Sandy struck Western Mass on Monday.
Holyoke and Chicopee were two communication trendsetters in the Pioneer Valley because of the creative ways and constant use that town officials used social media before and when the storm hit.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse was surprised to see just how popular his staff's YouTube video became overnight. The safety video had been posted by Morse and his staff the Sunday before Hurricane Sandy struck the area.
"Overnight 800 people watched it, which is huge. The first hour we had about 70 people... I went to bed... woke up in the morning, and about 800 people had watched the video."
Morse said it was social media like this that made communication during Hurricane Sandy more effective than ever before.
"Social media was essential throughout the storm. I was continuing to post on my personal Facebook page, and the city of Holyoke's page," Morse said.
From school closings to power outages, Morse constantly posted to Facebook to keep residents informed about current storm conditions across the city.
"People were just commenting how thankful they were again that we are posting on Facebook, because not every city was using social media to communicate," Morse said.
Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonette also posted to Facebook frequently during the storm, and he said people's responses to his posts helped the city respond to problems sooner.
"We're able to work with folks who are our eyes and ears a lot of times... out in the streets... out in neighborhoods... telling me what's going on, so I can use my ability to direct resources to the best advantage for everybody," Bissonette said.
And whether or not there is a natural disaster coming, Bissonette continues to see Facebook as a tool that is important to the city of Chicopee and other communities around Western Mass.
"We need to make sure that streets get plowed, sidewalks get fixed, potholes get filled, trash gets collected...and when those things don't happen, we need to hear about it because my office takes dozens of calls daily to deal with those things. This is just one more reason for people to let me know," said Bissonette.
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