Twitter was truly a remarkable and I’d say life saving “tool” that night. There were people who were able to connect with family, there were others who could route rescuers to someone who was tweeting while trapped in rubble.
There were also a boat load of journalists on twitter trolling to find out what’s happening. Like all of us, they were both physically but also proverbially in the dark about how bad it really was.
Keep in mind while we were all back here in the states in our warm houses, the GLA staff was attempting to get 90 kids to sleep on the driveway. And down in Port Au Prince, there were people who were quite literally thrust into a war zone without any preparation for it. One friend of mine who was down there when the earthquake happened described it this way, “It was like some of the worst parts of the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ without the bullets.”
So, Ann Curry posted on Twitter, “Looking to talk to any English speaking people in Port Au Prince” if they are available. I responded, “I’m not but I know people who are.” This kicked off a series of twitter conversations about it all and then an e-mail came through that said something I never thought I’d see:
“Tom Vanderwell, @anncurry is following you on Twitter.”
Additional discussions were had, phone numbers were exchanged and at 7:00 that Wednesday morning (the next day), Matt Lauer opened up the Today Show with an interview by phone with Dixie Bickel – the orphanage director in Haiti.
To this day, I’m one of the 1,013 people that Ann Curry still follows on Twitter. Oh and she has 1.4 million people who follow her on Twitter.
Twitter is a huge tool in disaster relief.
P.S. I’m @tvanderwell if you’d like to follow me on Twitter