Nastaran Pourebrahim, Selima Sultana, Gochanour Amanda, John F. Edwards, and Somya D Mohanty.
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 37 (2019): 101176.
Publication year: 2019

This study investigates Twitter usage during Hurricane Sandy following the survey of the general population and exploring communication dynamics on Twitter through different modalities. The results suggest that Twitter is a highly valuable source of disaster-related information particularly during the power outage. With a substantial increase in the number of tweets and unique users during the Hurricane Sandy, a large number of posts contained firsthand information about the hurricane showing the intensity of the event in real-time. More specifically, a number of images of damage and flooding were shared on Twitter through which researchers and emergency managers can retrieve valuable information to help identify storm damages and plan relief efforts. The social media analysis revealed the most important information that can be derived from twitter during disasters so that authorities can successfully utilize such data. The findings provide insights into the choice of keywords and sentiments and identifying the influential actors at different stages of disasters. A number of key influencers and their followers from different domains including political, news, weather, and relief organizations participated in Twitter-based discussions related to Hurricane Sandy. The connectivity of the influencers and their followers on Twitter plays a vital role in information sharing and dissemination throughout the hurricane. These connections can provide an effective vehicle for emergency managers towards establishing better bi-directional communication during disasters. However, while government agencies were among the prominent Twitter users during the Hurricane Sandy, they primarily relied on one-way communication rather than engaging with their audiences, a challenge that need to be addressed in future research.