Rutgers student releases documentary on social media response to Superstorm Sandy

    A new documentary by a Rutgers University student focuses on the social media response to Superstorm Sandy.

    Elizabeth Herlihy, a senior journalism major, recently released “Sandy: A Social Media Storm,” chronicling how individuals, media, elected officials, and small organizations leveraged social media to assist storm-ravaged shore communities.

    Herlihy, whose family lives at the shore, produced the documentary as part of the final requirement for her minor,  “Digital Communication, Information and Media.”

    “Through this minor, I have been able to explore various forms of new media and study its expanding role in our digital society,” she said.

    The film weaves in footage of storm damage and recovery work with a variety of interviews with people who actively used social media to cover the storm, seek assistance for communities, and organize volunteers, including Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, Lavallette Mayor Walter LaCicero, Sandy Weekday Warriors’ Joan Delucia, Bucket Brigade’s Cassandra Vitale, Ortley Strong’s Meg Stagliano and Eileen Koehler, and Jersey Shore Hurricane News’ Justin Auciello.

    They talk about how citizens banded together online, such as sharing “on the ground” news and forming grassroots efforts to tackle the immediate recovery. 

    Mayor Long captures the power of social media in her description of the role it played in Sea Bright, a small northern Monmouth County town that was inundated by the massive storm surge.

    “Immediately after the storm, when there was no power, no communications, and our town was closed due to gas leaks and emergency situations, we had no way of getting the word out to our residents of what was going on,” she said in the video. “So we relied on Facebook and on Twitter, and texting to basically communicate with 1,400 people to let them know what had happened to their homes and why they weren’t being allowed back in the town to see what happened.”

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