Joplin Chamber of Commerce - Disaster Communication
• Communications Director at Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce• 17+ years of experience in marketing and communications• Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Ottawa University, double major in Marketing and Theatre.• Responsible for all marketing decisions, media and public relations, governmental affairs, webmistress duties, editing, writing and all creative design for area’s largest chamber of commerce, serving over 1,000 business members. • Manage social media for chamber and several other affiliated organizations.• Regularly offer social media sessions and seminars to chamber members and others teaching the importance of social media as a part of small business marketing plans.Kirstie SmithCommunications DirectorJoplin Area Chamber of Commerceksmith@joplincc.com | 417‐624‐4150 | 417.438.1738 (c)
Disaster CommunicationsHow do you communicate when 1/3 of your community looks like this?
The multi‐vortex EF‐5 tornado that tore a 14 mile path through Joplin and the neighboring community of Duquesne moved as slow as 10 miles per hour, creating even more extensive damage due to slow movement of the storm. If we still used the old Fujita Scale instead of the Enhanced Fujita Scale to measure tornado strength, the Joplin Tornado would have been an F‐6 or F‐7 …Estimates put the wind speed at 300+ mph when the storm hit St. John’s Mercy Regional Medical Center. What began at 5:41 p.m. was over by 6:12 p.m.The Joplin Tornado destroyed nearly 1/3 of the city. 7,500 homes were obliterated leaving almost 18,000 homeless. Nearly 600 businesses were leveled. 5000 employees were potentially out of work.The beastly storm took from us 161 of our friends, families and coworkers…but by Monday morning, you knew that Joplin would survive. Joplin, Missouri – Sunday, May 22, 2011 @5:41 pm
5‐Star Chamber, disaster plan was a model for the U.S. Chamber of CommerceNever took the book off the shelf…it was a great plan, if OUR office had been destroyedFirst disaster communications training class began at 5:41 pm on May 22ndDisaster Plan: That’s great in theory…
Communications were down throughout the majority of the city.Text messages moved better than calls. Land lines only worked intermittently. We turned to the only way that we could communicate with our Members and the public. Social Media: The only reliable outlet
KZRG – News Talk Radio 6:45 p.m.Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce 6:52 p.m.Joplin Tornado Info 7:36 p.m.Joplin MO Tornado Recovery 8:01 p.m.City of Joplin 11:26 p.m.• The first post made by the Chamber was hoping for safety of all.• At 8:14 pm, we posted critical information that was verified and continued posting into the night.• Monday morning we had no electricity in our office and no access to our computer data.• Network lines were down and remained down until Thursday!Social Media: The only reliable outlet
E‐mail wasn’t the answer. But we did send out verified information on Monday morning before 10:30 a.m. to anyone who still had access to their email. I used my iPhone as a hot spot to power an internet connection for my iPad to send the email. Two others in our office used the same connection.Reaching out to the local media was not the answer either, though we tried. The media wasn’t ready to share information in the early stages. They were involved with rescue efforts. Finding people, looking for people. Facebook was the best way to share information with our Members and the public at large.We Couldn’t Access Our Data…Neither could anyone else.
April Facebook Statistics 955 “Likes” 8,824 post views 80 post feedbackMay Facebook Statistics 1627 “Likes” 116,170 post views 819 post feedback Thanks to COW’s (Cellular on Wheels) and local cell phone providers and repair services, Joplin stayed connected.Look Who’s Talking
Important Lessons learned:• Verify. Verify. Verify.• Assign task to staff person if possible or trusted volunteer• Use established page to share information• Set the tone early for your communications, confirms your credibility
This was my apartment in 1993 where my husband and I lived as newlyweds.
Home Depot temporary store opened May 31st. The permanent store opens this month.
Jim Bob’s Steak and Ribs, a Joplin original since 1971.
Jim Bob’s Steak and Ribs after. The Gambles WILL rebuild.
We had to dig fire trucks out of the debris to help people the night of the tornado. Two stations had to be rebuilt.
Walgreens rebuilt one store from the ground up and had to do significant repairs on a second store. Both stores reopened on August 22nd, 3 months after the tornado. It was the fastest build in Walgreens corporate history. The damaged store served as a triage center the night of the tornado and continued to be a volunteer resource station throughout the construction.
Walmart rebuilt from the ground up and reopened in November.
More than 500 families are living in mobile temporary housing units provided by FEMA.
Cunningham Park before and on the 6 month anniversary. The ring below symbolizes the wristbands worn by the volunteers…The Miracle of the Human Spirit.
Mayor Mike Woolston May 24, 2011 Anderson Cooper 360 Interview on CNN “This is just not the type of community that is going to let a little F‐4 tornado kick our a**, so we will rebuild and we will recover.”
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