It’s the day after Hurricane Sandy swept through the Hudson Valley, the place I call home, and the recovery work is only just beginning. The region is making national headlines, not because of the damage done, but because of the distress averted by the Facebook page “Hudson Valley Weather.” In Forbes, Todd Essig writes that the site exploded in popularity (and prepared the region for the storm) with three steps: “have expertise, enable activity both online and off, support (not create) community.” Instead of on-the-ground reporting, “Hudson Valley Weather” relies on updates and images from residents (along with thoughtful expert predictions and information. The difference, Essig explains is that “they’re not bringing us the weather. They’re a neighbor saying something is going on and let’s figure out what to do.” “Hudson Valley Weather” brought a neighborhood together by being a good neighbor.
In the aftermath of the storm, “Hudson Valley Weather” continues to do what it seems to do so well. It is currently seeking and providing regional updates about road closings, hurricane shelters, and water distribution centers. During a storm that delivered some of the worst flooding my area has ever seen, “Hudson Valley Weather” brought out the best in a community. Essig cites 20,522 “likes” for the Facebook site as of noon Monday; at 2:45 p.m. on Monday, it’s up to 24,778. No doubt Essig’s article has much to do with the rapid increase, but his praise and my own experience with the site (yup, I’m one of the 24,778—it helped my family through the storm) indicate that its good reputation is well deserved.
Thanks to Todd Essig for pointing out what “Hudson Valley Weather” does so well and to HVWX1 for doing it. As stories about Sandy continue to emerge, we’re all going to need more good neighbors to move forward.