It’s been nearly a week since we started watching on the Weather Channel and we’re still asking the same question: What do you hear?
There’s a thirst for information, especially in towns such as Easton, Weston, Ridgefield and New Canaan, where full restoration of power .
We’ll take the answers anyway we can, and towns throughout Fairfield County used a variety of media vehicles to keep their residents out of the dark, so to speak. Each town has its own website updated daily, if not more frequently, and also informed through traditional means like newspapers, radio, TV, live blogs, and now social media, from Patch to Facebook and Twitter.
"It’s difficult to keep a community informed if a lot of people can’t get on the website,’’ said Dave Campbell, . "We did everything we could to get the word out. We tried to keep it as current as possible.’’
Twitter can be accessed on a cell phone, and Jayme Stevenson, on Darien’s board of selectmen, introduced herself to the new media because of Irene.
"I got involved with Twitter reluctantly,’’ Stevenson said. "It was important to get the word out anyway we could. I thought it was successful and it’s something I’ll keep doing.’’
Irene inspired several Twitter accounts, lists and searches, including one, "#ctirene,’’ acting as a consolidator for various news outlets—electronic and print—throughout the state, and also the governor’s office, with the intent of drawing the reader to their sites.
But, if you’re in Fairfield or New Canaan, you want immediate information from those towns and not necessarily Hartford or New Haven. Immediacy and locality were critical over the past week and will continue to be so.
has been in office for less than three months. Prior to that he worked in real estate, so he’s well versed in Twitter. One of his first decisions was to create a Facebook page for Fairfield.
"We really tapped into the social media,’’ said Tetreau, who posted a YouTube video message on the town's website. "I’m definitely not a rock star, but Twitter was an effective way to get out information. I think the Facebook page was very effective and this is something we’ll keep up.’’
Fairfield, Darien, New Canaan and several other towns also used a reverse 911, an automated system that dialed residents’ phones with a recorded message. This proved very effective, but also revealed a flaw that needs to be addressed.
"We learned that a lot of people who have their phone through their cable systems lost their phone when the cable went out,’’ Tetreau said. "More and more people don’t have land lines anymore and we will be asking people to register their cell phones.’’
With 75 percent of Fairfield without power at one point, such immediacy was vital.
The response has also been positive from most responders on the New Canaan Office of Emergency Management’s Facebook page.
"This site has been a great and effective tool for communication during this trying time,’’ wrote Margie Scott. "However, a most important add-on was the telephone communication a few times each day (reverse 911). We lost power for 60 hours and therefore did not have access to the Internet, but we were kept up to date through their call system as we never lost AT&T.’’
Fairfield also went old school.
"We went low-tech, too,’’ Tetreau said. "We set up a command post with the police department and the fire department. We wanted to provide a presence for those who were out of touch.’’
Tetreau said command posts will be set up again in similar situations and that he can think of several more locations.
Stevenson said many people, especially the elderly, aren’t tapped into the Internet and got their information on battery-operated radios. Sometimes, she said, a human voice can be reassuring.
"Times have changed,’’ Stevenson said. "People need to get their information. I’ll keep doing this, but I still like face-to-face the best.’’
And, for a lot of people still without power, that’s how they are getting their information today.