Huddled in the dark, with no power, no heat, and sometimes no water, Doylestown-area residents clung to their mobile devices as lifelines to information during Superstorm Sandy.
Doylestown Borough officials used several social media outlets to get information out to residents. They are encouraging residents to sign up for the distribution lists now, before the next emergency.
The borough's email notification system, called Dmail, and its Twitter account gained hundreds of new followers during Hurricane Sandy, officials said Monday night.
"Many people joined in the midst of the storm," borough manager John Davis said during Monday night's council meeting. "We encourage everyone to go to our website, sign up for D-mail, find our Twitter page. The more people we can reach, the better."
Davis and other borough staff members use the D-mail system to get messages out to residents. During Sandy, they were able to forward daily updates from PECO on work being done to restore power to the borough as well as other important information.
On Monday, Ansinn praised borough official's efforts to share information quickly during the storm, when residents needed it most.
"Residents were using their iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, whatever they had" to keep in touch, Ansinn said. "Being out there and getting this information out to residents" was important.
"This is allowing us to be better connected to residents," he said, adding, "It’s all part of our brave new world."
Davis said municipal managers across the country are discussing how to use such tools more effectively.
"The use of social media to communicate is the talk of my profession," Davis said.
The Central Bucks School District's new superintendent, Dr. Rod Green, also used his Twitter account to update followers. He tweeted updates on which schools had power and which didn't, and notified followers when schools were closed.
To sign up for D-mail, enter your email address on the borough's website.
To follow someone on Twitter, sign up for a free account, then click on the links on their names to go to their accounts (or search for their names in the search bar) and hit the "follow" button.