Thanks Twitter, Facebook: How I Got News about the Eureka Earthquake

I’m from Eureka, a relatively rural town of about 30,000 people in Northern California. For those of you unfamiliar with the foggy, green, quiet town where I was born and raised, here’s a map.

Saturday afternoon, Eureka was hit with a 6.5 earthquake. The majority of my extended family still lives in Eureka, and I was very concerned. Not only about the potential for earthquake damage, but about the potential for a tsunami (there was one up there in the 60s, and it killed 11 people). My sister and I weren’t able to reach our Mom and Dad right away; cell signals were dead and land lines were unreliable.

So how did I get details about what happened and how the town fared? From the Internet, of course.

But not from online newspapers. No, I got my info from my Facebook network and from Twitter:

Mind you, these posts are from Facebook friends who don’t even live in Eureka any longer, but they had spoken to their respective families. This at least reassured me that Eureka wasn’t underwater, or complete rubble.

Twitter gave me some other pieces to the puzzle as well, thanks to the #Eureka hashtag (search it now for ongoing info). Even Mashable was running a story that featured user @amyeureka‘s Twitter photos of the aftermath.

Thanks to all of these, I was able to at least get some idea of the current status: no reported deaths, no tsunamis, no obliterated buildings. Just a lot of broken glass, toppled bookcases and broken chimneys. I could make a somewhat reasonable assumption that at least my family was alive, though maybe missing a few picture frames and glassware. And I wouldn’t have obtained that information from broadcast news or the paper.

The good news? I was finally able to make contact with my family: thankfully, the only casualty at Mom and Dad’s was a television.

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