During the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, two Quebec City (which is the capital of Quebec and not in Lac-Mégantic) residents, Vicky Villeneuve and Maxime Gagnon Desbiens, took it upon themselves to create a Facebook page titled “Lac-Megantic: Support aux Gens”, which means “Lac-Mégantic: Support for the people”. This Facebook page was created to provide people with a place to go to quickly verify whether those that were missing had been found or not. Villeneuve and Desbiens also created a website that served as a crowdsourced platform where people could post and update the community about the victims that had been lost and those that were eventually found – in real-time.
It was a beautiful idea executed by two Quebec citizens who didn’t know anyone from the Lac-Mégantic area, but who had a strong urge to help the victims and their families and friends.
At the time, Villeneuve told Global News that:
“We are giving people the only resource they have right now, because there is no official list from the provincial police or Red Cross available yet. So, we’ve been relying on families and friends in Lac-Megantic, who are collectively building this list and giving us confirmation. It gives them hope.”
Although you have to be careful of unverified information, rumors and speculation circulating the social web in a crisis, this is a beautiful example of citizens using social media to be proactive and helpful in a tragic time of crisis.
This example goes to show that we don’t have to wait for companies, organizations and/or officials in a crisis. If there’s a way to help and be useful, social media gives us the means to get creative and the power to help a community in need.