OK, Hurricane Irene is now history and many of us in Delaware are in the clean up, get back to normalcy phase – I want to just take a moment to shine a spotlight on something I think is incredible – namely, how our Delaware community used every tool available to communicate, help, and make a difference throughout the weekend.
I’ll start off with this observation from Lt. Gov. Matt Denn (posted on Facebook Sunday, August 28):
I was in a room at DEMA a few minutes ago with the Governor and a representative from FEMA. He told the Governor how impressed he was with the level of cooperation from the citizens in evacuation areas, and said it had probably saved lives and almost certainly kept many first responders out of harm’s way. He was also very complimentary of the Governor and our entire public safety community, he said ours is a model for other states.
OK, now let’s back up to Friday – while the weather was nice – no wind, no rain – but I was getting e-mails from the city of Newark, from New Castle County Council President Tom Kovach, from New Castle County Executive Paul Clark, and others outlining precautionary measures to take.
Then I see that Rodney Jordan created this incredible page
Throughout Saturday and Sunday, updates about Delaware were exchanged via twitter, facebook, radio, and newspapers – we saw photos, videos, read eyewitness accounts from reporters, elected officials, and public safety officers.
Just as important, and amazing, is how the public was able to offer updates, get questions answered, and offer their gratitude to the people helping them. Think about this for a minute, the Governor posts a driving ban and immediately people have questions – “what about people working at hospitals, can they drive home after their shift?” and “what about people obligated by contract to show up for their shift, regardless of weather conditions?” – the Governor and his staff were able to address those issues quickly and effectively. There is no way this could have happened just a few years ago.
In a similar area, check out the Delaware State Police Newsroom page on Facebook – you will see many questions asked and answered – freeing up phone lines for emergencies and allowing information to flow freely – this was also a great place for everyone to express their gratitude for the job being done by the men and women in charge or public safety.
Our friends in the media engaged in a powerful way – gathering updates and information via twitter, facebook, texts, and more – and sharing that information through those same tools as well as their own web sites, broadcast towers, and printing presses.
And for all of us sitting in our homes – in years past, this would have meant a mild case of cabin fever and a feeling of being disconnected with friends, family, and the community – but this weekend we had an active and lively conversation (check out the rundown here) and several of us were sharing music thanks to Dave McGurgan (seriously, check out the #netde room at turntable).
Here’s the thing, though – this is a glimpse into the future we can create – where every individual can interact, share, be better informed, and work together to get through physical storms, economic hardships, and more.
Governor Markell consistently refers to Delaware as a state of neighbors – I believe we have demonstrated that this weekend, and I believe we are heading towards more neighborliness – I continue to be so proud to be part of this community.