There was anywhere from a 15-30 minute lag time between the quake and notifications via email/land line phone. I never actually received text alerts, although I'm signed up for them and have received them in the past (although some cell services were down/flooded). The decision to evacuate didn't reach me until almost 3:00pm, and it was shared by someone who walked the hallways knocking on doors.
Which of course begs the question... when an event can erupt over facebook instantly (I got info about the quake, reported/updated magnitude and epicenter, etc, within 8-10 minutes or so via Facebook postings), how can that power be used to make emergency communications more effective?
I think this is a question that must be asked of those who design the community response infrastructure.
Howard County has sort of done this - for example, today I saw a safety update/recommendation from Ken Ulman on facebook about reporting damage and emergency preparedness. But I don't recall seeing any coordinated messages yesterday via facebook - did I miss them (entirely possible)? Anyone? (hocoblogs@@@)
In the mean time, look at this shiny and relevant infographic, featured today via The American Red Cross, which kind of illustrates my point. I'm surprised that the numbers of people that get info via FB/Twitter aren't higher, but also recall that there was "info passing" from those sources in the halls at work. So FB & Twitter may play a larger role than can be measured directly.
How do you think Social Media should be incorporated (if at all) in emergency response?
Social Media in Emergencies
Edit to add: Marshmallow Man mentions the local response he received within hours of the quake over on 53 beers.