- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Local emergency managers are practicing tweeting and updating their Facebook statuses to make sure they will be prepared to use social media sites to share information in a disaster.

Dubuque County Emergency Management Director Tom Berger tells the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/1YNx1MY ) he is looking at setting up social media pages for his agency to better reach younger residents.

“Social media is how younger people communicate, and that’s how you have to get to them,” Berger said. “We have to be able to adapt.”

Just over the border in Grant County, Wisconsin, emergency managers are already using social media. Emergency Management Director Steve Braun said the sites were useful after two tornadoes hit Platteville in 2014.

“It really served as a forum during the tornado (cleanup), where the city could get out info about how to report damages and available resources,” Braun said.

The social media sites proved especially helpful when the city lacked power for three days because officials could still update Facebook and Twitter accounts, Braun said.

They also can help officials respond to misinformation or rumors that may be circulating online.

“You absolutely see times where people post inaccurate things and speculation,” Braun said. “It’s just important to try to counter that.”

The American Red Cross uses social media in its disaster responses nationwide, and it has created several smartphone applications to share information.

Kara Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Greater Iowa Regional chapter of the Red Cross, said social media sites supplement the regular communication the group does through the media.

“For me, it’s been a more direct way to get info into people’s hands,” she said. “It doesn’t replace anything we normally do to communicate with media.”

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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