Flood relief has officially gone 2.0. As 75% of Queensland braces itself for a ‘post-war scale’ clean-up in the wake of the recent devastating floods, online communities have rallied on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to coordinate both donations and resources.
Flood-related Twitter trends, #qldfloods and #thebigwet, were consistently top topics throughout the worst of the natural disaster, while celebrities worldwide took to the microblogging channel to encourage their followers to donate to the flood appeal.
Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber tweeted his 6.6 million followers: “Just heard about the floods in Australia. To all the people out there I send you my prayers.”
On Facebook, hundreds of flood-related pages and groups appeared, pledging support to people who lost their homes, to injured animals, and even naming and shaming businesses purportedly profiting from the disaster.
Three Australian initiatives are using virtual channels to make a tangible difference.
Facebook: Donate Your Time
Facebook community group ‘QLD Floods – Donate Your Time’ was established by small business owners Ingrid Bayer and Jodie Hodges, of My Online VA Service and Virtually Organised respectively, to offer administrative and marketing support to people whose livelihoods and income are at risk.
“The effectiveness of social media and the power of online networking means that we have dozens of members already who can donate their time and skills to help businesses affected by the floods in all areas of Queensland, especially the remote communities.” Mrs Hodges said.
“We’ll be working with organisations like VolunteeringQLD and local chambers of commerce to help individual businesses in need,”
And it’s not just established social networks that have responded to Queensland’s plight. Identifying the need for a dedicated platform connecting “those in need with those who can help”, Floodaid.com.au, launched 14 January 2010, is a social initiative built specifically to help both individuals and businesses in flood-damaged regions of Australia.
Through Floodaid, people with a diverse range of skills can register their desire to help those affected. In turn, both people and communities can highlight the assistance they’ll need over the coming months.
Floodaid co-founder Graeme Caplen said: “Only once the waters recede and it stops raining will the full extent of the already mind-blowing damage become clear.”
“Many of us that haven’t been drastically affected by the floods are sitting at home wondering how to help. Logging on to floodaid.com.au will let you find people in your area that have needs suited to your abilities.”
Floodaid is currently engaging with similar organisations in Brazil, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Philippines with view to launching social networks to assist with their flood disasters.
A group of Brisbane volunteers this week launched FloodDiscounts.com.au a website to amalgamate all discounts available for flooded residents and businesses.
It is a free web-listing site where businesses large and small can pledge and post discounts on a wide range of products and services that are needed to help victims of the floods rebuild their lives, homes and workplaces.
“We hope that both large and small businesses will play an active part, and ask companies to consider offering a discount and get behind the movement that will support these people over coming weeks and months, and perhaps even longer,” said Rebecca Wilson, one of the growing group of Site Organisers.
“It is important to us to continue the giving of care and generosity that we have seen in recent days and weeks well into coming months so people have time to rebuild with support.”
The website requires that discounts be listed for at least three months, with the option to extend the listing up to six months.
To donate to Queensland flood relief, visit the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal.