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‘Facebook Saved Lives’ During Winter Storm

Facebook, city websites credited with keeping residents up-to-date – and safe – during unusually harsh snowstorm.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/26/2013, 2:41 PM

Rescuing stranded Samaria families
Rescuing stranded Samaria families
Samaria Regional Council

Facebook and other social networking sites “saved lives” during the unusually harsh winter storm two weeks ago, according to Oded Revivi, head of the Efrat Regional Council.

During the storm, Revivi kept Efrat residents updated via Facebook and the city of Efrat’s website, letting them know about road closures, decisions regarding local schools, and more.

Residents of the area wrote back, leading to an ongoing dialog that helped many, according to Revivi. “We got dozens of appeals on Facebook that led to us taking care of a variety of problems,” he said.

City and regional officials in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) faced a particularly hard struggle during the storm as many towns lost heat and other basic services, he noted. Challenges included getting soldiers into and out of communities, and ensuring that elderly residents were not in danger.

Over the five days of the storm and the immediate aftermath, the Efrat Regional Council’s website was viewed by 30,000 people, he said, far more than the norm.

In one incident, he said, city officials were made aware that dozens of soldiers who had been headed home to Efrat for the weekend had been stranded due to road closures. They used Facebook to seek help from owners of 4X4 vehicles, and found many volunteers. “From Thursday night to Friday morning we brought a convoy to Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh to bring the soldiers home,” he recalled.

“There’s no doubt that we will continue to use Facebook to be in touch with residents, during emergencies and everyday life. The connection is important to residents, and no less important to us,” Revivi concluded.