Hurricane Sandy dubbed "Frankenstrom" is fast approaching the U.S. East Coast and people are gearing up in full force to face it. The storm that has already claimed more than 66 lives in the Caribbeans and has brought the lives of many in the U.S. to a standstill. Schools, businesses and public transport have been shut down and will probably remain so till Tuesday.
More than seven thousand flights in and out of the east coast regions have been cancelled or delayed, leaving many stranded. The hurricane has also affected the upcoming presidential polls and has the campaign parties of both candidates worried. Many have also opted to cast their vote early, in case they are unable to leave their homes in the next few days.
As the people of America prepare themselves to face Sandy, the social media is live and active to the fullest. Many agencies and government officials, including FEMA, have taken to social media to update people about the storm and also give tips on how to survive it, including a checklist of the necessary items. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate tweeted on Sunday, "keep your mobile device charged."
Various accounts and pages have been created on Twitter and Facebook that are constantly updated so that the people are aware of what is happening at all times. On Sunday, the hashtag #Sandy was trending with people constantly tweeting about it. The social media also proves to be a medium that allows people to inform their loved ones about their whereabouts.
Google has developed an interactive map that allows one to track the path of the storm, gives the statistics of the affected areas and also tells the location of the emergency shelter nearest to the user. Various applications that can be downloaded on people's wireless devices have been developed that help them to be updated about the storm on the go. iOS applications, including Hurricane HD and Hurricane Tracker have detailed and animation maps allowing users to track the hurricane, reported AFP.
The American Red Cross app The Hurricane allows users to simultaneously update their Twitter, Facebook, email and text contacts with an "I'm safe" message blast. Applications that allow people to watch videos of the affected areas, as the storm unfolds, have also been developed.
The weather forecast website, AccuWeather.com has set up a group video chat on Google+ that allows people's questions to be answered by meteorologists. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have also taken down their paywalls so that people can get storm updates for free.
The Internet is also proving to be a platform that some people use to lighten the situation. According to AFP, a user on Tumblr, the blogging website, posted a picture of a bottle of red wine with the caption "Might as well post up for Sandy #sandy #hurricane #letsdrink."