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ERIC Number: EJ1016821
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0748-478X
Weathering the Superstorm: From Texts to Twitter--How Campus Communicators Overcame Hurricane Sandy
Towns, Gail
CURRENTS, v39 n4 p28-31 Apr 2013
By the time Superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey in late October 2012, Kathy Corbalis, executive director of communications and college relations at Atlantic Cape Community College, and her team were battle-tested. In the 15 months before the hurricane, the college experienced two bomb threats via Twitter, a lockdown due to gunfire, an on-campus manhunt for an escaped prisoner, Hurricane Irene, and a derecho--a powerful straight-line windstorm--that knocked out power for six days. These emergency situations reinforced Corbalis' belief that an integrated communications strategy is a must. As part of that integration, she recommended training staff members outside the communications office to assist with emergency communications. Two of Atlantic Cape's top security officers are empowered to send emergency text alerts that automatically update the college's Facebook and Twitter accounts through the mass notification system the campus uses. As communicators have discovered in the past few years, text messages and social media are critical to institutions' efforts to keep students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders informed in times of emergency. "I have run college communications directly from my [smartphone]," says Corbalis. "Our staff is trained in crisis communications, and on our phones we have an icon for the college's Rave Alert [emergency notification system]." From there, Corbalis can access Atlantic Cape's website; send messages via text, email, and phone; and post updates on Facebook and Twitter. Tools like these would be essential information outlets for institutions and individuals as Sandy--the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean--bore down on the East Coast. Once the approximately 900-mile wide storm made landfall just north of Atlantic City, New Jersey, it brought as much as 15 inches of rain, wind gusts of more than 90 mph, storm surges higher than 10 feet, and a significant test for institutional crisis communications and emergency management plans. Despite the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and similar tragedies in its wake, these events highlighted what institutions are doing well when it comes to crisis communication planning as well as the areas where they need to improve. An institution's ability to respond effectively in an emergency is critical to its stakeholders and its reputation.
Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 1307 New York Avenue NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-328-2273; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A