When natural disaster strikes, it takes mere seconds for tweets to start circulating around the globe and only minutes for empathy to start trending.
The recent and devastating Alberta floods are no different.
For those interested in a bird’s-eye view of what’s been happening in the Twitterverse, we’ve aggregated nearly 200,000 tweets and 10,000 compelling images and videos tagged under #ABflood and #YYCflood.
We’re thankful that every member of our H+K Calgary team is safe, and we wish to express our deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones, pets, homes or memories.
From political leaders to city officials to voices within Alberta’s affected communities, our latest 10 to follow list will hit home for Canucks in every province. Read more about these Twitter influencers who continue to deliver the essential, the serious, the light-hearted and the uplifting:
- @nenshi, mayor and rock star: Mayor Naheed Nenshi shines amidst the #ABflood disaster, leading his community through the worst with authenticity, humour, hope and panache. He’s tweeted vital information – often minute-by-minute – and is personally responding to local residents’ tweets. Nenshi represents excellence in social media and has defined his leadership using the medium
- @gccarra, Ward 9 Alderman and home-saver: Alderman Carra has used Twitter to save people’s homes. When the South Inglewood bank was being dramatically eroded, Carra used Twitter and called in the troops – literally! Hundreds of soldiers working with City of Calgary staff responded and saved houses in this area, proving that social media can make a real difference during a crisis
- @MichelleRempel, federal MP on the front lines: Rempel has been a community catalyst and convener, with one of the most active Twitter accounts among local political leaders during the flood
- @CityofCalgary, sharing accurate information: tweeting almost every minute throughout the crisis in Alberta, the City’s handle has worked to get fast and factual information to Calgarians, countering rumours and misinformation. Staff are giving truly personal, dedicated service to residents via Twitter
- @CalgaryPolice, keeping Calgarians safe: police services and, more broadly, governments around the world should take note of what the Calgary Police Service has accomplished using digital tools during the flood. Working around the clock, staff have expertly managed the handle and are responding to thousands of individual tweets to help keep Calgarians informed and safe – so much so that, at one point, the Service reached its tweet limit and was temporary locked out of its account (a.k.a. “Twitter Jail”). The Calgary Police have received an outpouring of support and thanks from the community (even though it politely refused an offer of a free pizza dinner from an appreciative local resident). This is public service at its very best
- @ENMAX, with up-to-the-minute power-outage updates: instead of simply thinking of itself as a power company, ENMAX has responded to the flood as a pillar of the Calgary community. Its ground crews worked around-the-clock to restore power to people’s homes, and its Twitter-management staff did the same to provide real-time updates to keep people informed about where and when power would be restored
- @EricFrancis, popular sports commentator and “voice of the Saddledome”: flooding at the Saddledome gave Calgarians a shared space to cometo terms with the scope of the tragedy and the damage caused. With water levels reported as high as the ninth row of seats in the dome, Francis’s tweets helped bring the community together to grieve and then look to the future
- @YYChelps, community-owned volunteer co-ordination hub: Calgarians have showed their deep-rooted civic pride throughout the flood, with the Twitterverse seeing thousands of local residents offering to volunteer their time to help with the cleanup. Calgarians themselves rallied together to create www.yychelps.ca, a hub that connects people with the help they need to recover – the powerful result of a community rallying to help those in need
- @calgaryherald + @calgarysun, giving a community voice to the flood: local journalists at the Herald and Sun newspapers were some of the first to respond. Braving the waters, they travelled close to the flood to bring the story to Calgarians. Many did even more, reaching out and connecting those in need with City information and services. Too many to mention by name, we recommend you follow these outlets as a starting point. (Yes, we know this actually counts as two, but both media outlets deserve a shout-out for a job well done)
- @leahhennelphoto, photographer: one day, we may look back at the #ABflood as Canada’s first social media natural disaster. We’ll remember the thousands of smartphone photos of the flood as it happened, with people using social platforms to share, and cope with, the experience together. Hennel has captured single events that convey emotion, chivalry, humanity and partnership in the face of the unknown – like this iconic image of a husband and wife helping each other safely through the waters (an award-winner waiting to happen, in our opinion)