Social Media Impacts Lives

Date August 12, 2008

On Monday, August 4, 2008 a tornado touched down in Griffith, Indiana just two blocks from where I currently live in Highland, Indiana. I started Plurking and Tweeting (on my personal accounts) as soon as I saw the National Weather Service alert that the tornado would be to me within five minutes; of course that was after I got my family safe. Here’s my Twitter time line and what the folks who follow me there got to see from when it began through to the next morning:

08:21 PM August 04, 2008  from Ping.fm
So [name] sent [their] tornado to me. In the basement now.

08:25 PM August 04, 2008  from Ping.fm
OMG neon blue sky.. Neon green.. Sirens!

08:30 PM August 04, 2008  from Ping.fm
The sound is terrifying! We’re in the crawl space.

08:37 PM August 04, 2008  from txt
House is moving and creaking. Jacob is freaking out. No power obviously. Cramped in here.

08:52 PM August 04, 2008  from txt
Outside with my father because he’s freaking INSANE! It’s a mess out here. Emergency vehicles all over.

09:15 PM August 04, 2008  from Ping.fm
The tornado ran along the next block. Lightening struck, we lost a ton of electronics. Things are smoking…

09:22 PM August 04, 2008  from Ping.fm
Houses are gone…

09:26 PM August 04, 2008  from txt
Turning off my updates from u people.. Phone juice running low.. No way to power phone for now. Will keep updating.

11:41 PM August 04, 2008  from Ping.fm
It’s around midnight and the people out walking the streets to see th damage reminds me of a parade.

08:03 AM August 05, 2008  from Ping.fm
http://ping.fm/p/ogle4 – Never seen anything like this.. Looks like a hurricane came thru & mangled all the towns around here. It’s hard to find words for this…

08:14 AM August 05, 2008  from Ping.fm
We have power back. A lot of things are fried. AC is dead. DSL dead. Headed out now to buy new surge protectors.

09:09 AM August 05, 2008  from Ping.fm
The storage unit I put all my apartment and life in is demolished. I’m balling my eyes out. WHY AGAIN?!

10:55 AM August 05, 2008  from Ping.fm
Aaaand to top it all off: my computer is fried despite the surge protector.

As soon as I said that a tornado was on the way, a flood of reply messages started coming in. People expressed concern for our safety, asked if we were ok and extended prayers. The responses coming to me on Twitter via text message were comforting to me while my family and I huddled together in the crawl space of the house. I may have been alone in taking care of my family, but my social media family was with me in spirit. I was amazed at the compassion and immediate response from the people that I’ve simply formed relationships with online.

In the time line above, you read that I found out that I’d lost my storage unit (again) to the tornado. I’ll elaborate on the again part of that statement. Two years ago in September I was living in a basement apartment that was flooded so bad that they had to gut the building to its foundation. My son and I lost our home and everything but my dining room table, my computer and a duffel bag of clothing.

Just a few months ago I had moved in with my parents while I began my search for a full time job (didn’t want to sign another year-long lease since I planned on moving) and also to help out since my father and grandmother need daily assistance. I took everything from my home and placed it into storage with the exception of my clothing and my computer.

The tornado touched down two blocks from me, made it’s way across the the parking lot of a Kmart, took out a strip mall, demolished the residential neighborhood behind it, went straight through my storage building and then down through another neighborhood.

My storage area was an afterthought and I’d only stumbled upon it the next day because I was on the way to pick up new surge protectors for the house. I saw just the edge of the warehouses and they looked as though they’d gone through a shredder. I broke down into tears immediately. I am still questioning how two different natural disasters can affect one person in two years.

My social media friends extended their thoughts, love and prayers immediately yet again. I received phone calls, emails, text messages and word through friends concerned about me. They wanted me to know I wasn’t alone, that I was cared for and that they would help in any way they could. Just having their words was a huge help.

I have my friend Jim of With a Voice Like This to thank for his support and help in the clean-up, but also my family from Reunion Church. As soon as Pastor Chuck found out about this, he sent word out via email to the church community. People started calling immediately offering to come and help, which many did. Also a result of the Reunion family, I even received a text message of support from someone in New York that I didn’t know. The physical was covered.

The social media friends certainly couldn’t be there physically to help me sort through what was and wasn’t salvageable (china cabinet, kitchen items, sentimental things in Rubbermaid totes were saved; lost all furniture and beds), but they found their own way to help out. Friday evening my friend Andrea of Geek is Chic sent me a text message saying that she had a question for me and asked that I call her. She was bubbling with excitement while she told me that she had organized a group of people who had together pooled over $400 to put towards helping us get back on our feet. Of course, I began crying again. This time it wasn’t in sadness but because I had such amazing and wonderful people who cared so very much.

Thank you to Mark Tafoya, Rachel, Krissy, Alison L, Flick, Amy Osborn, Winnie, Bleu, Cliff and Stephanie Ravenscraft, Kim Thompson and FrancR for your generosity and your compassion. I love you people. Thank you so much.

New and social media is here to stay. I talk about it all the time, but this example here is something that shows how strongly it can take hold of you, how it can truly affect lives. I’m a testament to that. Social Media is helping me start fresh. I’m one person. Now think for a moment, on a bigger scale, how social media could affect the world. What are you doing to be a part of it?

Additional Media re: Tornado

  1. Here’s a YouTube video that I shot of a neighborhood along Arbogast.
  2. This is another YouTube video that someone else put together. At around 4 minutes into this one, there’s actually additional footage beyond just sights and sounds from the storm. You may want to skip ahead.
  3. Photos of the destruction

5 Responses to “Social Media Impacts Lives”

  1. Brian said:

    Kim – I am so glad that you are doing better! I feel relieved knowing the reality of social media has been able to be there for you in order to be “God with skin on” as you continue to go through this reality of loss (once again).

    Please be sure that I continue to pray for you (how’s that splinter?), Jacob (”I hate rabbits”), your family, and all of my friends from NWI that are struggling through this whole mess out there. Hang onto the family at Reunion as they are an amazing group of people that love to be there for those in need!

    Social media only proves that the world is shrinking faster every day. That simply means it’s much easier to lend a hand or give a hug. Any time you need either, please let me know! 8^)

    – Your (new) New York friend

  2. Andrea said:

    Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!!!!

    Amazing blog post, It’s a great record of such a life changing hours. I agree whole heartedly. Social Media is such an amazing way to connect with people, and build relationships that transcend the keyboard. I am so thankful that you, my friend, and your family are safe. I am so happy that we’ve gotten to hang out in person, and I’m just glad that although we where unable to be be there physically, we where able to come together and be able to help out any way we could.

    A very small percentage of people loose everything they own once in a lifetime. You’ve been faced with this twice in the mere span of two years. As unfathomable and difficult as it may be, keep your head up. Find the strength within, and use this as an opportunity for change, and to start a new life. I have all the confidence in the world that you will come out a stronger and even more fabulous Kim.

    Just remember, that you have a lot of people to lean on, and who are ready to help in any way we can. You have friends all over, and surely you have a friend in me.

    If there is absolutely anything you need, or that I can do to help, just let me know.

    Oooodles of Love
    Andrea

  3. Jim Goodrich said:

    This is a good outcome from a terrible situation. I wish it hadn’t happened in the first place, but it’s nice to know that you’ve got people who are willing to help on so many different levels. I’m just glad I could be one of them.

  4. Fraaaaaaaaaaahnk said:

    Kim,
    I’m really sorry you had to face this difficult situation. I’m glad that we where able to help in some way.
    I wish you nothing but the best for a brighter future for you and Jacob. A new start with endless possibilities.

    Take care of yourself, and don’t hesitate to let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

    Fraaaaaaahnk.

  5. Mary S said:

    Kim
    Hi, I know I have never met you but all day long for some resone I have been thinking of you and your son. I have been trying to find a way to talk to you. I just have been thinking of you alot I went back and am trying to get all up to date on GNI. Note to self don’t listen to the last GNI when driving. I was in tears.

    Just know that I am thinking of you a whole lot. and your son I am also think of.

    Mary

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