The recent heartbreaking events of the midwest floods have reached unprecedented heights. Anyone that lives in a stricken area or has a friend or loved one there, wants to know as much information as possible about what’s happening on the ground. The American Red Cross has always had a focus on communication, and are now taking it even more deeply to the web by leveraging fast growing social community sites.
They have set up a blog specifically about midwest flooding on WordPress here, giving daily updates and information direct from the scene, including embeds of Flickr photostreams. Their main site, redcross.org is full of resources including a Safe and Well feature. If you are or have been in harms way of a natural disaster, you can register and in essence tell anyone who accesses the site that you are OK.
Using social online communities is a much more intimate and personal way to experience from real people what’s going on vs. hearing it from a news reporter or meteorologist. My sister lives in southwest Missouri and was driven from her home by rising lake levels. Thankfully her home did not suffer any damage and she is fine. I was able to stay in touch with her via phone, as she retreated to higher ground, staying with a friend. Having these extra tools to learn, find out about friends and family and help through donations is yet another benefit of the convergence we see taking place around us.