Thursday, May 30, 2013

Neosho Puts Social Media Infrastructure in Place as Part of a Proactive Response to Potential Tornadoes

Contact: David Burton, civic communication specialist
Tel: (417) 881-8909

Sources: Rebecca Williams, Joplin Tornado Info, 417-501-5187, email at; Wes Franklin, City of Neosho, 417-451-8050 or email at

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Should Neosho ever be hit by a tornado, one source for rescue and recovery information is already on Facebook: Neosho Tornado Info.

The template used for the Neosho page was developed by community volunteers Rebecca and Genevieve Williams who set up Joplin Tornado Info when Joplin was hit in 2011. Then after the Joplin experience, Branson Tornado Info was set up by David Burton, a civic communication specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“I put the Branson page together just in case and then two months later we were using it in the Branson recovery,” said Burton. “That experience is causing other communities to think ahead.”

Individuals can be proactive and “like” Neosho Tornado Info now. Wes Franklin, spokesperson for the City of Neosho, said he is excited about this opportunity and pleased with the assistance he has received from the Williams and MU Extension.

“I think getting the Neosho page in place now is a great, proactive concept,” said Franklin. “Should a major weather event occur, Neosho residents will have a central online place to go to for information and to ask questions. By setting it up now, residents will hopefully already be aware of it.”

The page will also serve to make citizens aware of some of the other proactive steps the city and other local agencies are taking to prepare for a major storm event. The City of Neosho is already using a mass text message system to alert and inform residents of weather events. Citizens may sign up for the text alerts by going to the city website, The city has also recently established an internal text messaging system to coordinate with city employees in case of a major emergency.

Newton County Emergency Management has recently begun compiling a database of private safe rooms and residential storm shelters in Neosho and Newton County in order to better locate survivors following a natural disaster. Information about how to be placed on the list is one of the many things to be featured on the Neosho Tornado Info page.

Williams agrees that Neosho is to be commended for thinking ahead.

“Neosho is raising the bar for social media preparedness by getting a page and the infrastructure for it in place before something bad happens. The Joplin Tornado Info model and the guidelines outlined in the social media guide are being used to establish and build the online recovery community in advance of it being needed and launch the page,” said Williams.

University of Missouri Extension’s popular publication, “The Use of Social Media for Disaster Recovery” provided the framework for getting the Neosho Tornado Info page in place. The publication is available online for free download online at That publication outlines the things learned with the Joplin and Branson pages.

Since being posted online in March of 2012, the guide has been downloaded and printed over 15,000 times, used at FEMA trainings, and even distributed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to county emergency management personnel in Texas.

The guide has been profiled in national media and called “informative and useful” to anyone interested disaster recovery or creating a successful social media presence.

The free guide is written by Rebecca Williams and Genevieve Williams, creators of Joplin Tornado Info on Facebook, and David Burton, civic communication specialist for University of Missouri Extension and creator of Branson Tornado Info on Facebook.

The updated 32-page guide draws from experience with Joplin Tornado Info (47,000 followers) as well as the things learned when implemented with Branson Tornado Info (17,000 followers).

For speaking engagements or training opportunities about using social media in disaster recovery, contact the authors of this guide directly: Rebecca and Genevieve Williams at and David Burton at

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