The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 21, 2011

Social media served as disaster outlet

JOPLIN, Mo. — When the EF-5 tornado hit Joplin on May 22, destroying St. John’s Regional Medical Center, the hospital turned to social media sites to help spread the word.

Sisters of Mercy Health System offered frequent updates through multiple channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. Mercy’s website,, became the hub for information, with a special Joplin section quickly created to offer news updates, photos, stories, ways to give, co-worker and spiritual support, and links to other organizations providing assistance in Joplin.

In the week after the tornado, visits to the site jumped 213 percent, officials said.

“Emergency response has changed with social media,” said Brad Herrick, director of digital marketing for Mercy.

Facebook and Twitter accounts were used to distribute real-time messages. A new Twitter handle, @JoplinMercy, was created to provide up-to-date information from Mercy’s command center in Joplin.