Social Media Key To Boston Bombing Aftermath

April 16, 2013       Paul Clolery      

At least 3 people are now reported dead and more than 170 people injured as a result of yesterday’s two explosions near the finish line of the 117th annual Boston Marathon. Initial reports by police and other officials of additional devices are incorrect, according to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

There was what appears to be an unrelated fire at the John F. Kennedy Library at about the same time. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis had said it was a bomb, but officials have since said the fire appears to be coincidental. There were no reports of injuries at the library.

Police and the FBI have asked for anyone with video near the finish line to please contact authorities even if they think the video won’t show anything.

Boston began its recovery from the terror attack for which there still are no suspects. There has been an outpouring of support. “Today, we join our neighbors, our community, and friends across the nation and the world not only in grief, but in our determination to overcome this heinous crime. All of us at the Boston Foundation wish to express our sympathies and support to all those directly affected by the attack, and pledge to provide short- and long-term support to the community as we all seek to recover and heal.”

Officials of the Boston Marathon were the first to call it a bombing, posting to Facebook: “There were two bombs that exploded near the finish line in today’s Boston Marathon. We are working with law enforcement to understand what exactly has happened.”

Nonprofit social media was a primary source of information and coordination of services and contact points.

John F. Kennedy Library officials Tweeted “JFK fire in building is out, appears to have started in the mechanical room of new building. All staff and visitors are accounted for and safe.”

The American Red Cross Tweeted: “Thanks to generosity of volunteer blood donors there is currently enough blood on the shelves to meet demand.” The Red Cross shipped 100 blood products to Boston-area hospitals. “We do have sufficient funds and sufficient blood products to meet needs at this time,” said Director of Media Relations Anne Marie Borrego.

A statement on the Red Cross’s website provided some additional details: “People in Boston who have access to a computer can go to redcross.org/safeandwell to list themselves as safe or they can text or call a family member and ask to be registered on the site. Please note that due to high volume, the Safe and Well site is experiencing slow page loads at this time.”

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund Tweeted that it had 21 runners in the Boston Marathon. “We’ve received word that all runners & staff have checked in & are safe,” according to the Tweet.

The 21 members of Team JDRF, who raised more than $143,000, were all accounted for a few hours after the explosion, said Kristin Judd, director of Team JDRF. The participants communicated through a combination of text messages, email and Facebook while phone calls were difficult to connect.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) issued a statement today expressing gratitude for staff and volunteers who were on the course supporting its Marathon Strides Against MS team. The society has accounted for all staff, volunteers and team participants. “As an organization that puts on hundreds of events annually we want to assure our participants that safety remains our top priority and a comprehensive safety plan is in place at all society events.” We will, however, be taking extra measures for upcoming events across the country and are currently working with local authorities to determine what extra safety precautions are recommended,” according to the NMSS statement.

The New York City-based NMSS holds some 800 special events across the country each year, ranging in size from a few hundred to more than 13,000 participants.

She said the attack on the marathon will not dissuade JDRF supporters from participating in future events. “Just the fact that people are participating in an event, not just doing it for themselves but to support Type 1 diabetes research, it becomes bigger than the marathon itself,” said Judd.

(Picture from ABC News)

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NPT Writers Zach Halper, Mark Hrywna and Patrick Sullivan contributed to this report.

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