Weather alerts, road closures and other emergency information is getting out to Auglaize County residents more quickly through posts to Facebook and tweets on Twitter.
Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Anderson said he decided to broadcast his information through the new social mediums in an effort to disseminate information faster.
The idea came about while Anderson, who is working on his meteorology degree, began talking to residents and fielded repeated questions about how information could be broadcast to the public in a more timely manner.
“It started out as a hobby, but with the EMA, most of the work I do is with weather,” Anderson said of his decision to pursue a meteorology degree. “I saw that this would be a faster way to get information to residents. A lot of them don’t have weather radios, but a lot of them are on Facebook and Twitter.”
He decided to create an Auglaize EMA page on Facebook where he could reach residents who are logged on and since doing that, he’s linked it to his Twitter account.
In addition to the general public using his site, Anderson said he’s also noticed public organizations and schools turning to it for the latest information.
To date, he’s given out weather info, road closure updates and other pertinent information from around the county, but Anderson said he plans to enhance it further by including historical information and photos, specifically of significant weather events from the past.
Anderson said he’ll continue to tweak his tweets and posts depending on what information the public is seeking and what he think may be helpful, including adding more maps in the future.
In addition to what Anderson can share with the public, local residents also are able to share with him directly what they are experiencing at any particular moment from locations around the county, such as pictures of storm damage and fluctuating rainfall amounts.
The Auglaize EMA has maintained a Facebook presence for approximately a year and the number of followers of both that and his newer Twitter account at more than 420 continues to increase. Even though Anderson admits there are advantages and disadvantages to using social media, so far the pros have definitely outweighed the cons.
“So far so good,” Anderson said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”
He tries to post updates at least once a day and more often if a weather event is imminent or continuing.
Soon he plans to start charting the St. Marys and Auglaize rivers and adding that data as well, not only to allow information on their depths to be available daily but in case of possible flooding for businesses and homeowners to be better prepared.
“I think we are getting information out quicker this way and I’m definitely happy about that,” Anderson said.
He tries to update the information early each morning before many people start their days and then also in the evening depending on conditions.