Napa mayor says social media helped during quake

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- The Napa Earthquake was the first major earthquake to hit the Bay Area in the 21st century. And a lot of us who felt it responded in a very 21st century way. The quake woke ABC7 News Anchor Cheryl Jennings up in the middle of the night and one of the first things she did was to send out a tweet asking others what they felt.

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On the day of the quake on set, Cheryl got bombarded with tweets. Bay Area social media lit up with photos and video.

First it was the local residents sharing what they saw. But soon emergency officials, including Napa police, were also using Twitter and other social media to get out critical information.

Napa officials say media outlets helped by retweeting important news to a much wider audience.

"What happened was the electricity went out so a lot of people didn't have TV," said Napa Mayor Jill Techel.

But many did have cellphones, which are now a key part of disaster response.

Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is actually considered the landmark event that launched social media as a critical tool in natural disasters. Now that tool is being fine-tuned in communities all over the Bay Area.

"It helped people connect," Techel said. "It helped people find out what was happening, helped people be able to come here and help. There was all sorts of people helping people."

In Napa that meant sharing scenes of great loss, also linking lost pets and their owners, helping quake victims in need, and showing the incredible resilience of our Bay Area community.

Click here for details on the one-year anniversary, and click here for full coverage on the South Napa Earthquake.

written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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