The Woodward News

Local News

April 25, 2012

Social media playing key role in tornado recovery effort

Woodward, Okla. — Social media has made a huge impact on how people communicate and in the aftermath of the April 15, tornado, Facebook, in particular, has helped people get the information they want and need.

Just hours after the deadly tornado swept through Woodward, a Facebook page titled "Woodward Tornado Info" was up and running, connecting families and helping people with their immediate needs, said Amber Wolanski, an administrator of the Facebook page.

The website gave people a place to help find their loved ones and make sure they were alright. While one woman couldn't send or receive any text messages to tell people she was okay, she was able to get on the social media network and inform everyone she was safe, Wolanski said.

"It's really given an opportunity to let everyone know exactly what's going on," she said.

The page was originally created by the people who created the Joplin tornado information page after they learned Woodward needed their help, Wolanski said. They immediately began getting information out onto the website to help victims of the tornado.

Wolanski said within 24 hours the organizers were asking her and Lindsey Snider-Scotney to take over and become primary administrators because they are Woodward natives and knew what was going on, who to call and when someone referenced something they knew what they were talking about.

"We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It's really a blessing, it's been amazing," she said.

The Woodward Tornado Info page has not only connected families and friends but it has also helped tremendously with the cleanup effort. Staying in touch with city officials and Woodward Emergency Management allowed everyone to see what was needed not only in terms of donations but also where people could volunteer their time to help those in need.

"Really social media was crucial in the cleanup effort. It's been about one week and the town is pretty well cleaned up," Wolanski said.

Matt Lehenbauer, emergency management director, agreed.

"It has been an absolute godsend for recruiting volunteers," Lehenbauer said.

The Office of Emergency Management has had a Twitter account for about 2 years and a Facebook page for about a year. Both sites have helped keep people informed and helped organize the recovery efforts.

"We've been able to rapidly fill needs in just a minute or an hour or 2. It's been phenomenal in recovery," he said.

Lehenbauer said the ReadyWoodward Matt Facebook page has allowed people to communicate within the community and let others know if they have items they want to donate and can take care getting those donations to the family, which helps take some work off of the emergency management office.

"Social media is really just starting to take off in popularity and we're definitely going to continue using it in Woodward County. My only problem is that it's been too popular and finding time with all the other issues and keeping up with Facebook has been difficult," he said.

Lehenbauer said there are plans to have a social media emergency team to help in case of another disaster. He said they may take volunteers who like to be on Facebook and are good with computers to help down the road.

Wolanski said while a lot of people check out Lehenbauer's Facebook page, he is going to have to shift his focus from what everyone's immediate needs are back to his job as director of emergency management.

The focus of the Woodward Tornado Info page will be shifting as well, Wolanski said they will begin working on building additional pages as well as helping with fundraising efforts to get the city back on its feet.

"It's going to take a lot to rebuild what we have," she said. "Our goal is to do more fundraisers and connect with bigger organizations to raise more money for Woodward."

To view the Woodward Tornado info page visit!/woodwardtornadoinfo. To view Matt Lehenbauer's emergency management page visit!/readywoodward.

Text Only
Local News
  • Enrollment dates set for schools

    With school quickly approaching, it is time to get your enrollment information in and Woodward Public Schools have set their enrollment and other key dates.

    July 30, 2014

  • Marijuana petition attracting signatures

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Medical marijuana may be the state’s newest gateway drug — to voting.

    July 30, 2014

  • Glow run scheduled in Alva

    ALVA--A popular new trend in running is coming to Woods County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Boy, 7, drowns in weekend accident

    A seven-year-old boy died over the weekend when he fell into a swimming pool at a private residence in the Wheatridge addition, according to Woodward police reports.

    July 29, 2014

  • Commission OKs grader financing

    Monday morning in their weekly meeting, Woodward County Commissioners approved the financing on a new John Deere motor grader and discussed in detail the upcoming County Officers and Deputies Association meeting the county will host this October.

    July 29, 2014

  • Deal reached to improve veterans' health care

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan deal announced Monday would authorize about $17 billion to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans and make it easier to fire executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    July 29, 2014

  • Western Plains sets school supplies drive

     As the beginning of the school year approaches, so does the need for new school supplies.

    July 29, 2014

  • Area woman recovering from West Nile

    It wasn’t too many years ago when West Nile Virus was a scary word everyone hoped never happened to them and most of the time, that was true.

    July 27, 2014

  • Dedication set for art pieces

    Woodward’s collection of public art pieces will grow by two this week.

    July 27, 2014

  • ‘Support YOUR Cause Tour’ making stop in Woodward

    A musician is looking to raise $5,000 at an upcoming local concert.
    But Scott Helmer isn't raising the money for himself.  He is hoping to collect money to help support the Woodward Arts Theatre.

    July 26, 2014