2017-10-01 / Spotlight News

Facebook forum connects neighbors during Irma

By Kathy O’Flinn

The Facebook forum connected those in need with those who could help. The Facebook forum connected those in need with those who could help. Chris Griffith gets choked up as she recalls the many people who were helped through her Facebook forum — The Bonita Springs-Estero Community Forum.

As Hurricane Irma’s arrival became imminent, forum members sought help installing storm shutters. Griffith’s group found people who knew how to do it. “We were the point of contact. We connected A to B. We coordinated people we knew with people who needed the work done,” said Griffith. “Scores of people got the help they needed.”

When water supplies ran short, forum members provided names of stores that still had water. “Water at Walgreen’s,” announced one. When generators were in demand, members announced which stores were getting shipments. The forum provided a lifeline in a time of crisis.

Group links after the hurricane included postings for cleaning and repairs, cooling stations, grocery stores. “Where’s the milk?” posted one forum member.

News of open gas stations and postings on restored power, neighborhood by neighborhood, followed. “San Remo has power!”

While the group is Bonita Griffith said it includes Naples, Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

Griffith started the forum about three years ago at the suggestion of a fellow real estate agent from Connecticut who had set up a forum as a resource and found it very helpful during Hurricane Sandy. Griffith thought it wise to appoint an administrator in Atlanta to run the forum during the storm.

Currently the forum has approximately 5,400 members. “I wanted quality not necessarily quantity,” said Griffith. “Friendships have been formed and we have meet-ups once a month.”

In the storm’s aftermath, members of the forum quickly coordinated feeding linemen who were restoring power. This is a virtual neighborhood with a heart.

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