As Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City, Emily Rahimi was responding to cries for help and offering words of comfort via the New York Fire Department’s Twitter account, reports CNN.
Rahimi is the social media manager for the New York Fire Department and she proved to be a lifeline of sorts for many stranded New Yorkers. She responded to hundreds of tweets pleading for help, most of them in the first hour or two after Sandy made landfall. She also relayed tweets to 911 dispatchers.
“You could see the panic and fear in the words they were typing,” said Rahimi, who stayed at her desk through the night. “People were so scared they were reaching out to anyone they thought might listen. It really struck a chord with me. I tried to help them as best as I could.”
While hundreds of thousands of callers jammed emergency lines, Rahimi says, “A lot of people couldn’t get through to a 911 dispatcher. So I took their information and called our dispatchers myself to make sure they sent an emergency crew.”
As the social media manager for the fire department, Rahimi says she always tweets out alerts to her 53,000 followers during emergencies. But this one was unique. Rahimi says she was prepared for the worst Monday night, but didn’t anticipate the hundreds of messages she received from terrified people unable to reach 911.
At times, she said, the sheer volume of tweets was overwhelming, but under the circumstances she considered it part of the job.
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