Twitter & Twisters–A Life-Saving Combination

For more about the tornadoes, there are more slides and videos over at CBS news.

This past weekend I taught social media at the Texas Two-Step Conference. One of my classes was about Twitter. Many people see no use for tweeting, especially the mundane information of everyday life. It is my job to teach people why Twitter is so essential and help them understand the power Twitter gives us all access to.

I gained a profound lesson about Twitter yesterday during the massive tornado outbreak that ripped through North Texas. Twitter and twisters? Huh?

I’ll explain in a moment…

I am from Texas and have lived here virtually all of my life, and I have to say that spring here is one of the most nerve-wracking times of year. We’ve been through our share of horrific storms. Say 5-5-95 to anyone from the Fort Worth area and their eyes widen. They instantly get the reference.

Then there was the outbreak of April 26, 1994 with 25 tornadoes including an F-4 that nearly erased the town of Lancaster. The twister stripped homes clean to the foundation and dropped debris halfway to Austin *shudders*. Then there was the outbreak of December 29, 2006 that served up 22 tornadoes, including an F-2 in Rio Vista.

I’ve been very fortunate to have never been in the heart of any of these outbreaks. Not that these storms weren’t still terrifying. Just because you aren’t in a tornado, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting 100 mile an hour squall lines that are uprooting trees all around you. Also, as a native, I have friends and family spread across the DFW Metroplex, so it is mind-numbing trying to contact everyone to make sure they take cover or, later, that they are still alive and accounted for.

Ah, but yesterday was different. I’d taught at a conference all weekend and was off my normal schedule. I couldn’t shake the fatigue, so my business partner, Ingrid, and I loaded The Spawn (my 2 year old) into the car to go to the gym. While at the gym we saw the weather report and it didn’t look good, so we high-tailed it out of there so we could run home before the storms hit. We still weren’t too concerned, because *shrugs* we are Texans and we are used to these violent spring storms.

So we get home, and Ingrid had one more errand she needed to run. She told me to check the weather but I got sidetracked with the toddler or something shiny, can’t recall. Anyway,  she was about to walk out the door when I said, “Wait! I totally forgot to check the weather. Let me look at that before you leave.” I go to the Weather Channel’s web site and what I see makes me stop dead cold.


Not a TORNADO WATCH or a TORNADO WARNING … no, a TORNADO ALERT, which means take cover or kiss your @$$ good-bye. Alerts mean a twister has been spotted and it is headed straight for you.

We scramble to get the storm supplies and take cover in the bathroom, and after a few minutes it seems we are in the clear. We creep out of the bathroom–shared with a hungry toddler, two cats and a dog–and look at the news. Is it past us?

The power goes out.

I can no longer tell what is going on. According to my friends on Twitter, it had just passed over us. Out the back window it seems we are clear, that the storm missed us. I venture a quick peek out the front door to see if I can get a visual on the storm. We are clearly NOT in danger, but I see this horrible wall cloud.

Anyone venture to point out the tornado?

This photo was actually taken earlier and from a different storm, but the wall cloud and that funnel dipping down is exactly what I saw. I would have been happy to provide an actual photo of THAT particular wall cloud, but I was too concerned with…um, not dying. Anyway, as you can see, there is a funnel dipping down, only, unlike the photo above, this lowering actually created a tornado that tore through Kennedale and then Arlington (right near the gym we’d just left) destroying or damaging 130 homes.

The video below is exactly what I saw form. This is footage of the actual Kennedale tornado.


What was so terrifying about yesterday was that all the tornadoes were all hitting almost at once. The meteorologists couldn’t keep up because the storms were spread across so many counties.Thus, while they were focusing on the Dallas tornado, those of us in or near the Arlington area couldn’t tell what was going on. Never seen anything like this.

What does all this have to do with social media? Huh? Social media. Well, it is Wednesday and normally social media is our topic. Twitter actually helped us take cover. The meteorologists couldn’t keep up, but countless tweeps across the Metroplex could.

There were moments that we didn’t have power and people were tweeting the warnings so I knew to get back in the bathroom. When we had power, I took up the self-appointed duty of Amateur Meteorologist and started tweeting every warning as it came, telling people to take cover.

Why was this important?

Well, the tornadoes hit during the workday and many people were not at home. A lot of workplaces don’t have televisions or weather radios. If the place of employment doesn’t have a lot of windows, people might not know there is a problem. BUT many people do have a phone that chirps when they get a tweet. One lady in Mesquite tweeted to me that she didn’t know that there was a tornado until I tweeted that one was on the ground headed straight for them. They had a chance to take cover.

The tweets also helped people warn friends and family or watch to make sure if they were in the clear. It was very rewarding to see how many people got on Twitter and worked together to share the news and make sure people they’d never even met could get to safety.

Social media is social, and storms have a way of making us feel powerless against the onslaught of Mother Nature. Yet, with Twitter, we could warn people we knew and even those we didn’t (unlike Facebook). By using hash tags like #DFW #tornado, we were instantly connected to people we’d never met, but who we could warn to get to safety (For those who don’t know, a # is a search filter, so anyone following #DFW, #tornado #warning would likely see all the tweets warning people to get to safety).

We could look for tweeps we knew were in the area and comfort one another. Twitter helped tremendously when the power went out, because we could still rely on our phones’ Twitter application and gain up-to-the-second information from our friends who were being vigilant enough to keep tweeting real-time information.

Twitter kept us safer.

If we rely on the TV, we can’t be in the bathroom, but my family could take cover and stay safe while we watched Twitter on my phone for the best real-time information. We could also tweet back to those warning us what we were hearing or seeing and if we were okay.

So thank you to all the tweeps out there who took time to look out for us. Some of you have never met me, and you might not ever know me, but know that we are so grateful that you took time to care for strangers. No one was killed, thank God, but there are countless people who’ve lost everything. I am off to bring some supplies to the @RedCrossDFW. Follow them and see how you might be able to serve those hurting right now. But thank you, thank you thank you for serving us yesterday. Who knows if your tweets are why no one died? Maybe you saved a life.

So were you helped by Twitter in the DFW storms? Did you tweet to help others? Have you ever used Twitter in a similar fashion? What are your thoughts? Stories? Impressions?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I will announce the winners next week. A little behind after the storms.

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. Wow,Kristen that is incredible! It’s amazing no one was killed and fabulous that Twitter was so helpful. I’m glad you are safe and hope there isn’t a repeat. it must be frightening to live there.

  2. If nothing else, he helped me stay…I won’t say calm, but calmer. It was definitely the quickest way to check in with everyone who was spread all over the metroplex. And I knew if so-and-so was safe, that meant my kid’s school was safe, etc. It was still a very stressful day. Though I feel tremendously lucky that everyone I know made it through unscathed.

    1. he=it in that first sentence. Apparently I’ve given Twitter a gender. 🙂

      1. Twitter. The Next Boyfriend of the Week? 😉

        1. LOL, I think that one’s a more long term relationship. 🙂

      2. Twitter….my hero *sigh* 😀

  3. We get those skies here in FL, too. When it comes to weather warnings or news, I usually hit Twitter first. 🙂

    It is so true how social media has the ability to make such a difference. Recently, it came to my attention that a young mother I met needed to flee an abusive situation. I turned to Twitter thinking it couldn’t hurt to see if help could be found.

    People donated baby and toddler items, money, a laptop…the generosity of complete strangers came pouring out. It was amazing.

    Social media gives us the unique opportunity to not only get the word out, but to let the words of others be a call to action.

    Glad you and my many Texas pals stayed safe through the storms. Wishing everyone a much more peaceful week.

  4. So glad you were safe. I have never seen anything like what the DFW area experienced yesterday (and I come from a place with a lot of tornadoes!). And after reading this post, I think I’ll activate the twitter app on my phone!

  5. As a fellow Dallas-ite, I was right there with you on Twitter. What I couldn’t find out via the weatherman, I found out faster on Twitter. AND I was able to make sure all my friends were safe. I experienced the same thing when we got jiggled by that earthquake. What an alarm system Twitter is! Glad to hear you and the spawn were ok! Then again, I knew you were…I was watching your tweets 😀

  6. Kristen, we live in the heart of the Ozarks and about 70 miles south of Joplin (remember last May?). Over the years, we’ve been through more twisters and warnings then we could shake a stick at. Texas was on everyone’s minds yesterday, and you certainly reinforced the power of social media. I watched your tweets as they rolled by and prayed the entire time.

    So thankful you are safe.


  7. I guess that’s the downside of getting to live on the warmer part of the world. Can’t imagine having to live with such warnings and being ready to take shelter whenever. I’m glad you’re all ok!

  8. Interesting post! Amazing (and a blessing!) you caught the tornado on video without sustaining any damage. Twitter is the best for social connection…you never feel alone, you get instant updates on events, weather, danger, news etc, and there is always a supportive “twiend” ready to console you or cheer you on, or even just vent to. In our busy day & age where time is of the essence and free time is a precious & rare commodity, immediate/instant gratification is King! Twitter fits right in with our “Now!” way of thinking. For even the busiest of us, Staying informed is now possible in 140 characters or less! Genius invention 🙂

  9. i routinely curate & distribute information during emergencies & disasters via Twitter, and was doing so yesterday. It is another – but never should be the sole – method of disseminating information That information MUST be vetted & validated as misinformation, rumor, and old, expired data can be distributed quickly just as valid, valuable information can be. There are a *lot* of vulnerable populations that cannot be reached via Twitter or other social media. Having said that, that’s not a reason to NOT use Twitter, but the public and public safety agencies alike MUST recognize that Twitter cannot be the sole means of distributing information.


    1. I think it is best when paired with the agencies that are an authority. I was tweeting what I was hearing from NBC and CBS as I flipped between the two. I was tweeting their warnings word for word, so they could reach those who didn’t have TV. I know my husband works near DFW airport and it was my tweets that alerted his workplace that they needed to take cover. But I got that warning from CBS.

  10. Kristen, we live in the heart of the Ozarks and about 70 miles south of Joplin. After experiencing multiple twisters and warnings over the years, we’ve seen firsthand the destruction they leave behind. The state of Texas was on everyone’s minds yesterday, and you certainly proved the power of social media. I watched your tweets as they rolled by and prayed the entire time.

    Thankful you are safe.


  11. I was watching all of the storms on HLN and on Twitter at the same time. I person I follow retweeted a woman’s plea to know what was going on. She had friends in the Dallas area, and as she lived in Germany, couldn’t get any information. I was tweeting things the newspeople were saying and I’m pretty sure I retweeted some of yours.

    I’m just so glad no one died. Considering how many there were (18!), it’s a miracle.

    • patricefitzgerald on April 4, 2012 at 10:37 am
    • Reply

    Kristen: I’m so glad you are safe, and it’s so wonderful to hear that there were no deaths, though certainly LOTS of destruction. This use of Twitter during emergencies reminds me of the HAM radio operators throughout the world who help during disasters when there is no TV or even phone service… and they’ve been doing that since the… 20’s?

    How is your son doing since his tooth accident? All better?

  12. Thank goodness you all are alright. I “watched” the tornadoes strike near the homes and towns of many of my friends via twitter and FB — very scary. Social media to the rescue!

  13. Kristen, SO glad to hear that you are all right. Damn, now I really am gonna have to get a phone with a data package! Was already planning to set up a Twitter account today. Yet another social media to try and master. Somehow it does not seem possible to tame one of these creatures at a time, they all want attention at once!

  14. So glad you’re safe. I was also tweeting and texting my hubby (works in Frisco) and friends in Ft Worth. Storm missed us THIS TIME but there’s always the next one.

  15. So glad twitter helped you and others stay safe. It is a real testament of social media doing it’s best. Thanks for sharing on your blog about it. I don’t have an iphone only a sell by the minute one so I would have been one of those who didn’t tweet on it or look at twitter on it. This post makes me see what I’m missing.

    So glad that no one was hurt. Did call my sister east of Dallas to see if she was alright. Now I have my directions correct. 🙂

  16. What great proof that Twitter isn’t just for telling people what you had for lunch. (Amazing how many people still think that!)

  17. Wow! Thank God y’ll are safe from yesterday. That’s interesting to me to know I can receive twitter on my cell phone. I need to check into that. I’m still new to all of this. Thank you for your awesome suggestions.

  18. Living in the mountains of TN we rarely had to worry about tornadoes but the last few years have shown that we’re vulnerable, too. Came very close to my house last April and a community about 40 miles away was devastated. My grandson and his wife were taking a few days vacation near Gatlinburg while my daughter, his mom, and I cared for their baby who slept through the whole thing! We watched on tv as the bad storms trained through the area where they were. Thankfully they were safe and we were able to stay in touch with them via cell phone.
    So glad you all were safe and Twitter helped keep lots more safe.

  19. Kristin, I first heard about stormy skies from @RoniLoren. The next thing I know, you’re tweeting warnings and all hell is breaking loose on the Twitter newsfeeds. It was like. … do you remember the old television program YOU ARE THERE? Decades before social media, YOU ARE THERE showed pivotal moments in history with faux docu-drama vignettes: interviews and news stories about the people and places involved in historic events. Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about as I followed you and Roni, and hoped and prayed you would be safe.

  20. A writing acquaintance gave me your name a few days ago. She talked to me about having a “writer’s platform”…..she mentioned tweeting and I admitted I knew nothing about it and kind of had the impression that it was a time waster. She filled me in some and encouraged me to learn more. I signed up to read your blog posts and today I am convinced….NOT a time waster but a useful and possibly necessary tool! I am about to order your books.

    Amazing. Glad you are safe.

  21. This is interesting. I’m just getting my feet wet in twitter and yesterday I happened to check it and I saw your tweet about the tornadoes. I knew you were in TX so I turned on the local channel and discovered we were under a severe thunder storm watch, then a warning, but no tornadoes. So, I have to agree about the value of social media. Helping us stay connected and the ability to look out for each other, among other things 🙂

    • Joy Held's Writer Wellness Blog on April 4, 2012 at 11:26 am
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Joy Held's Writer Wellness and commented:
    Must share this with my readers!

  22. What a wonderful post, Kristen. I’m glad you and The Spawn and Ingrid are all okay!

    As a Seattle-ite with several writer friends in TX, it was a relief to hear my phone chirping away all day, telling me that my friends were faring well and asking about each other and praying for each other. Twitter gave me some peace of mind yesterday.

  23. Tornadoes scare the patuti out of me! I’ll take earthquakes any day. I lived in Iowa, so I know the reality. Immediate warnings and staying connected are crucial during times like that. A real-life example of the importance of social media. Glad you made it through safely!

  24. So glad you guys are ok!! How nerve racking and terrifying. I saw the tweets flying and couldn’t believe what you guys were dealing with. It is amazing how social media can be used in a million countless ways including saving lives!

  25. Holy CRAP. I can only imagine what it would be like to hunker down and hope for the best, unable to control what happens. Thank goodness you checked before leaving…I think sometimes our intuition kicks in when we need it the most.

    Hoping all my Texan writer friends are safe!


  26. I absolutely agree about sharing some crucial information and safety issue. I prefer Tweeter over Facebook because Facebook has more entertaining character and usually I have no time for some funny videos or pictures. But I find lot of useful information for myself on Tweeter.

  27. I’m so thankful that you and your family are safe and sound, Kirsten…I was keeping track of the tornado on the news, and praying for a friend (and others) in the area. Thank God we have a mode of communication such as Twitter to spread the news…now that’s a dynamic way to use social media. Thanks for this very necessary post…it may help the rest of us to communicate in a crisis in the future!

  28. Amazing what Twitter can do. And Facebook. I was able to check on my Dallas-FortWorth relatives within a few minutes after seeing those terrible images on Internet and TV. Twitter can save lives!

  29. I saw some of your tweets coming through on facebook, and I was so grateful to know you were okay – even though I’m waaay over in Cali and had no idea Texas was having such difficulty. Bless you for taking charge and leading the Twitter brigade. How many people stayed safe because of you? Lots and lots, I’ll bet.

    Hugs honey!

    • Lanette on April 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm
    • Reply

    I’m glad you survived it. The tornadoes missed us in Keller, but we were watching what was happening in the rest of the metroplex.

  30. My father was always afraid of lightning storms. We never had any tornados in our part of the country. Guess the mountains protected us.

    Great post, Kristen. (Besides, I feel surrounded by caring and gracious ladies.)

  31. Kristen, you did what any person who respects life and is willing to take up the mantle would do. I was Witchita Falls and saw a mini-wannabe twister and didn’t need another lesson. I live in CT and remember finding roof shingles from one of our rare brushes with God’s Broom. It sweeps indiscriminatelty and it’s our job to help those who got swept. I’ve done the trifecta; twister, earthquake and hurricaine.

  32. So glad you are safe Kristen.
    I remember being on Twitter when we had an earthquake. I live in VA so it’s unusual and I wasn’t even sure what was happening, but then the tweeting started and I knew it just wasn’t my house that was shaking.

  33. A moving tribute to the use of Twitter and the power of it’s connections.

  34. Scary!! So glad you’re safe, Kristen.

    • Em on April 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, you should be a writer. 🙂

    Nice to read about the power of the tweet in action. Powerful stuff that.

  35. An amazing real life story. I congratulate you on keeping enough presence of mind to Tweet out the warnings. I imagine you had quite enough to worry about protecting the Spawn. So glad everyone is safe. I think you made your point emphatically about using social media.

    • Karen McFarland on April 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm
    • Reply

    Living in California, we always live in fear of a natural disaster. But I think one of the hardest things is the feeling helplessness. Not knowing or not able to help tears at my heartstrings. So glad you all are okay. Yes, we may lose our belongings, but lives are much more precious and were spared, thank God! And Twitter! 🙂

  36. I really need to figure this twitter thing out. I get so lost.I did get some of your updates yesterday and worried about you. Thank you for sharing this and saving the lives of others. Now back to wondering how you did that!!!!

  37. I’m so glad you and everyone else are safe, Kristen. I saw your amazing footage of the tornado yesterday and couldn’t believe you had the guts to take it. I would still have been hiding in the bathroom…

    1. I didn’t take the footage, though thanks for thinking I’d be that brave. That was some guy on 287 coming toward Kennedale. I witnessed the tornado from the south looking north and he filmed from the north looking south, but no doubt it was the same event. Scary stuff! *shudders*

  38. So happy and thankful to know you and yours are safe, Kristen, and that the other people out there that I love are fine, too!!!

    As to Twitter, I started slowly, still going small, but am beginning to really enjoy the connections!!

  39. So glad you and your family are safe. Thanks for highlighting the many amazing ways we can have social media work for and, when necessary, keep us safe!

    • malindalou on April 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm
    • Reply

    I definitely appreciated your tweets! I checked in with my other TX colleagues to make sure they were ok. I was glad to see that you and yours were unhurt!

  40. Gosh!

    Watched the whole thing on twitter/facebook last night and spoke to friends who live, have families in Texas. The scariest thing watching that vid is the noise level. It was a miracle no one was killed. My thoughts are with you all.

    I’m in the UK. The Texas tornadoes have been all over our news. Strangely enough we had a weather event too – blizzards which cut the power to thousands of homes. You might not think this is strange, but last week the temperature was in the seventies and peeps were out in flip flops and sun dresses with sunburn.

    Twitter is a great way to share experiences and news and to support peeps. Just wish the hard sell by other users would stop, it drives me nuts to follow a person who then sends me a DM asking me to buy, read, leave a review for their book. I know you did an etiquette post on social media, Kristen, perhaps we need to revisit it because these peeps are not doing themselves any favours.

  41. I believe twitter could of been the reason there were no deaths. No deaths! God bless Texas!
    -a girl in Nevada

  42. I Goggled 5-5-95 and came up with a Fort Worth hailstorm in May 5, 1995. Is that right?

    1. Yes….it was UGLY. Every car in the Metroplex looked like it had been attacked with a sledgehammer.

  43. Kristen: I saw your tweets and your Facebook video. That is scary stuff! But you are right. There is a beauty to being connected. Just not at the dinner table, please. 😉

    So glad you are okay!

  44. Amazing and scary – and kind of makes you feel good about humankind, too. No doubt that instant communication can be very powerful.

  45. I am so glad you’re safe, Kristen. I’ve been reading WANA and I feel like I have my own personal mentor. Thank you and Stay SAFE.

  46. I’ll definitely be tweeting storm updates. Thanks for letting me see a different reason for Tweeting!

  47. I saw your tweets, and I’m in Pennsylvania. I had no idea there were tornadoes anywhere that day until I read your tweets. Twitter’s definitely a great way to get the word out. I’m glad you are safe!

  48. Reblogged this on Gossipboys.

  49. No denying that yesterday was pretty scary here in north and east Texas. We were lucky as the storm that came close to Winnsboro missed us. I was talking to my son today who said he laughed at the meteorologists who were arguing with some guy who was sending video of a tornado in the Dallas area and the meteorologist said it couldn’t be because they were not seeing it on radar. You are so right about places like Twitter and FB being the most accurate way of knowing what is really coming right at you.

  50. So glad you lived to tell the tale. My kids and I once got into a car while visiting family in Detroit. We were listening to Raffi sing about riding his palomino to the fair, and while the horsey was clipping clopping on the CD player, we were driving through a horrible storm that turned out to be on the periphery of a tornado. My aunt’s big tree blew down a half hour after we left. We could have used a tweet from a friend. Thanks for another great post.

  51. I am extremely relieved that you are all right and that no one in your area was killed. What I saw on tv of the damage of the tornadoes is unbelievable, and my heart goes out to people who have lost potions of their lives and lost their homes.

    I was on Twitter when i saw your tweets. It was what alerted me to what was happening. As I saw other tweets, I became aware of one of the most useful aspects of Twitter. Aditionally, I started to think of how useful Twitter could be in other ways (like your community building of #MyWANA). I think Twitter is very valuable and is it’s own community; I just get frustrated by tweets that are rehased so often or are used for mundane.

  52. Saw your tweets and was hoping you and all the rest of our Texas friends were keeping safe. Hopefully yesterday was the end of it! Good for you doing your part, Kristen. Yay twitter!

    • bellesapepper37 on April 5, 2012 at 4:48 am
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Bellesapepper37's Blog and commented:
    I am very glad Kristen is safe and well just frazzled. A true life experience shared by her and others in why social media should be available every where.

    • Joanna Aislinn on April 5, 2012 at 5:11 am
    • Reply

    We’ve been blessed to not have such scary weather to deal with in NJ (maybe that’s why it costs so much to live here?) but I’ve learned the potential power of Twitter. You’re right, Kristen. People blow it off but what an excellent illustration of what an essential, life-saving tool this real-time social media venue is. Thanks for sharing this post.

  53. This is a very informative post!! Thank you!! I never thought about taking my computer, phone in the bathroom when a tornado watch/warning/alert happens. I just leave the TV on, REALLY loud until they say all clear. We also have sirens here that go off and stay on during the storm.

  54. I think social media outlets like facebook & twitter are changing the way all news events are reported. People on the ground become the “reporters” in a sense.

    1. I believe that working together is the best. I don’t have Doppler radar or a degree in meteorology, but they do. On the other hand. they can’t have “eyes on the ground” everywhere, yet we can step in and fill that vacuum. I know that I was tweeting the warnings straight off the news, and through Twitter, people who couldn’t see the news, could get it via my tweets.

  55. I think social media outlets like facebook & twitter are changing the way all news events are being reported. People on the street become the “reporters” in many cases. Everything is shown in real time as it’s happening. And with natural disasters like tornadoes/hurricanes/floods the news crews can’t be everywhere at once. Just imagine if twitter & facebook had been around when 9/11 happened…

  56. Yes, even though I was not in Texas, I was helped in my state of prayer that no one be seriously injured or killed by those Texas tornadoes. I received many tweets keeping me updated. Social media totally ROCKS!

  57. Oh for the twitterverse down here at the bottom of the world, where no one twitters (yet)! Never mind, we still have every other modern way of communicating with each other, and there’s always ye olde ‘yelling over the fence’ 🙂
    Yvette Carol

  58. Okay, Kristen, you and your terrific blog have given me one more Texas friend to worry about.

    • Charity Kountz on April 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm
    • Reply

    Love your post. I was doing my best to tweet info as I could find it. One part you didn’t cover was the comfort aspect. My fiancé was at work, my daughters were at school. Since I work from home, I was alone except for my two dogs who were freaking out (no help there as both fought for the limited landscape of my lap). My mother in law texted me to take cover (she’s in Corpus Christie). I turned on the local radio, grabbed dogs and pillows and blankets then snuggled into the bathroom. I started tweeting and texting almost immediately as friends family and tweeps started checking on me and my family & vice versa. Being alone & scared to death for my fiancé who works in Dallas as well as my boss, both were within miles of reported tornadoes, the communication helped so much and kept me from panicking. Sharing information with others kept my focus off of the fear.

    Having been through many natural disasters (Hurricane Andrew, category 5, Miami Florida) and grown up with hurricanes, For many years I have had a less-than-cavalier attitude toward weather systems. I know first hand the damage that can occur. But that storm had me very scared simply because you didn’t know where it was going to hit next. With a hurricane it’s less random, you can see it coming and prepare. With a tornado there really is a complete randomness to it all that I hate. The uncertainty is terrifying. But the communication kept me calm.

    I love that social media continues to evolve and find new purpose to bring us all together. So glad you, Ingrid and your famines are safe

  59. Living in Kansas provides opportunities to endure tornado warnings several times a year. I work at a university that now issues alerts via text, email and phone when warnings are issued. It’s been a godsend since I rarely have the radio on and don’t have television reception.

    Social media – Facebook – has come in handy, too, since very few of my local friends are on Twitter. They are good to post storm alerts to FB. And Facebook worked beautifully to let friends know that a former colleague lost her home in the Joplin tornado last year. She & her husband were fine. Her daughter, many miles away in Kansas City, posted updates after she heard from her parents via landline, because cell towers were down.

    So glad to know that you & your family are okay. It’s an experience I hope that neither you nor I have to repeat any time soon!

  60. I’m one of those folks that always talks ill of technology and the negative impact it’s had on society, but this is great. Growing up in Andrews, TX, close to Midland, I know the feeling of running for the tornado shelter and now that i’m in Corpus Christi, it’s different because you have plenty of time to brace yourself for hurricanes. I may have to start tweeting 🙂

  61. Growing up and now living in Indiana all you have to do up here is say Palm Sunday Tornados and people shudder. I was young in 1965 when they hit but still remember riding them out and the smell afterward. Glad you guys were save inTexas. We were very lucky and only had limited damage to our house. The ones on each side were gone! Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes. Good luck! Peace.

  62. I’m in the Houston area, and we deal with hurricanes instead. I agree that social media is wonderful in this regard. I wasn’t on Twitter at the time, but through Facebook I learned a lot during the Hurricane Ike aftermath. The news guys were covering the worst areas, but that didn’t help me know what my own community looked like. Plus, people notified about where to find scant supplies (e.g., “Shell on Road X just got gas!”). We all felt connected through these mediums and were able to help each other out.

    So glad y’all are okay. What a scary situation for my friends in the DFW area!

    • Reetta Raitanen on April 7, 2012 at 2:02 am
    • Reply

    Technology can be a huge help in dangerous times. It’s great that you were Tweeting out warnings and helped people stay safe.

    We saw the use of social media in Finland after the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. Finnish diving teachers were traveling the disaster area and posting to social media the names of the Finnish (and other) survivors they encountered. Their lists were more accurate than those of the government’s because they were there in person.

  63. As much as I hate twitter I can see why it would come in handy at a time like this. I’ve personally been grateful, its one of the only “Acts of God” I haven’t lived through, though I have had funnel clouds over my house in Wyoming. Not fun. No where to hide. *chills just thinking about it*

  64. Hey Kristen,

    Love this post and going to link to it in my blog post next Tuesday if that’s cool with you. Trying to make the point that social media can be beneficial and this is the perfect example!


  1. […] Best selling author Kristen Lamb found out the advantages of Twitter when her community was beset by tornadoes this week. Twitter & Twisters – A Life-Saving Combination […]

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  3. […] Twitter is real time, which means that while reporters are putting together their stories and getting approval from their editors, normal people on site are tweeting. Last August, Twitter lit up like a firefly on crack about the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia before the news stations could catch their balance. In the plague of tornadoes that rolled through Texas this spring, Twitter might have even saved lives. […]

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  5. […] the tragedy in Boston, social media guru, Kristen Lamb, even used Twitter as a weather forecast tool to avoid getting killed during a tornado alert in […]

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