Stranded Motorists Used Twitter During Blizzard

CHICAGO (WBBM) — All but the last remnants of snow from the Blizzard of 2011 are gone, but there were some valuable lessons learned about the use of social networking web sites during one of Chicago’s worst-ever snowstorms.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, when motorists started becoming stuck on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard on Feb. 2 and 3, many people began making SOS calls via Twitter. Some were sent to the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“Some of them would tweet and say: ‘I’m in my car and I’d like to get out. Where can I go that is warm and open?’” said Red Cross spokeswoman Martha Carlos.

Carlos said others would tweet that the lobby of their building was open, and there was a bathroom to use.

“I don’t know that we ever sat down and thought, ‘OK, we can help in this exact way.’ But I don’t think that any of us were surprised by it,” Carlos said.

Carlos says there is an effort underway nationwide to improve emergency responses to tweeted SOS calls during disasters.

The blizzard dumped a total of 21.2 inches of snow on the city. Some motorists were stuck on Lake Shore Drive for up to 12 hours.

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