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Social media increasingly used for severe weather updates

First it was snow, then ice, and now flooding.

"It's been really crazy," said Dennis Ferguson, Roane County Road Superintendent. "For a new road superintendent, don't get me wrong I love my job, but man we have been piled on with it. Last week I was up 36 hours."

January's weather events have led to warnings and closures all over East Tennessee.  Information, that Ferguson, needs for residents to know.

"I was trying to think of a way that I could reach Roane County's citizens the quickest, and I thought, 'Why not Facebook?'" said Ferguson.

Just a few weeks ago, the department created a Facebook page and began posting about the storms and how they were affecting road conditions.

It caught on quickly. They already have nearly 1,300 "likes." But the residents aren't the only ones getting something out of it; so is the highway department.

"They are saying 'hey there's water over here at so-and-so' or 'there's a tree down.' Then it helps us and we send guys out there," he said.

Local governments have increasingly been using social media to keep folks informed.   Sevierville Police Departments has seen the benefits of social media for a while.

"It's been phenomenal really. We started Twitter about three years ago here, and we have 1,500 people following our Twitter. We just started Facebook about five months ago and have over 1,000 people," said Bob Stahlke, Public Information Officer for Knoxville Police Department.

Sevierville Police Department usually uses their accounts to alert residents about traffic and crime, but they say with so much severe weather, they've been using it to help people stay safe as well.

"The feedback has been great. We're just really glad that we're doing it," Stahlke said.

Now as flooding threatens to turn to ice, both agencies say they'll be keeping their residents updated on whatever comes their way.
The City of Knoxville says they are discussing plans to ramp up their social media during severe weather. Currently, they post some updates on Twitter and Facebook.  Knox County says they also post severe weather updates on their pages.




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