Typhoon Ketsana (local typhoon name: Ondoy) drowned Metro Manila, the National Capital Region of the Philippines in what is deemed to be the worst rainfall in recent history. In a span of roughly 6 hours Ketsana delivered a month’s worth of rainfall totaling to about 341mm or 13.4 inches.
People living in the cities of Marikina and Cainta and Pasig were held hostage by raging flash floods that had them moving to the roofs of their houses to seek safety.
In the midst of this disaster, citizens used social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and the like to spread news, update their loved ones and ask for donations. The phone networks were clogged and it was hard to get through. People were recommended to use text messaging instead as it’s easier for SMS to get through the phone network.
From everyday citizens, all the way to major news networks, social networks played a crucial role in getting information around. ABS-CBN’s news channel ANC used their Twitter account to get news out as well as to receive information from people who were in the affected area. People were asked to tweet their location and details so that the network can pass it off to rescue workers.
A picture of Cristine Reyes, a local actress was posted on several web sites to inform people that she and her family were trapped on the roof of their house and seeking assistance. This information was quickly disseminated through Facebook and Twitter and eventually reached the news networks and got in touched with her. Her plea was heard on air. As of this writing, it’s unsure if she’s already been rescued.
Amidst the tragedy, the collective heroism of everyday people is making a difference. Tweets and Facebook status messages have been copied and reposted. These tweets and messages contain information such as contact nos. for rescue and help hotlines, information about loved ones, information about where to donate relief goods and information as to how overseas people can send their help.
These networks continue to help mobilize people by getting information out to the public and connect people. It seems that these impromptu coalition of friends and strangers are doing a lot more good compared to the machinery that is the government.
I’ve heard of stories of getting rubber boat suppliers in touch with companies willing to buy the boats for use in rescue operations. Several multinational companies have also expressed their intent of lending their helicopters for rescue operations with the information being passed around the social networks.
Stories of friends getting help from people in their networks because their pleas were posted on their Twitter or Facebook pages.
A friend and her family are trapped in the second floor of their home. The have trouble getting through the mobile and land based phone system but thank God, they were able to access the internet. They were able to post some pictures and get word that they’re safe. They have food and water but are still trapped in their home as the water outside their house is still chest deep.
With reports that the gov’t hotlines are clogged or worse not being answered, it’s the tweets and Facebook messages that are becoming lifelines to those affected by the flood.
This is a good example on how technology is being used for greater good. For people such as I who aren’t able to go out and physically help others, the internet and technology is allowing us to do our part to help others.
So, as I finish this post, I ask that you take time to read the stories linked below to see how much devastation Typhoon Ketsansa has brought to the Philippines, in hopes that you might be in a position to help out. There are also links below as to how you can help.
Thanks and may God help and bless those most affected by the storm.