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When Storm Clouds Darkened the Skies in Southern Louisiana, Extension Specialists Lit up Social Media

Posted by Scott Elliott, National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Conservation
Sep 27, 2016
Flooding in Louisiana
The Healthy Homes Partnership is helping flood victims in Louisiana recover and rebuild. USDA photo

(This guest blog describes how the Healthy Homes Partnership helped residents affected by recent flooding in Louisiana.  Healthy Homes Partnership is an interagency program funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes and is housed at the University of Missouri - Extension. Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan for you and your family as you just don’t know when a disaster will strike your community.)

By Michael Goldschmidt, national director of Healthy Homes Partnership, University of Missouri Extension

In mid-August, residents of Southern Louisiana were deluged by about two feet of rain.  According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the resulting flooding caused at least 13 deaths and damaged more than 100,000 homes. Several federal agencies and partners sprang into action to help, including Healthy Homes Partnership (HHP).

The Healthy Homes Partnership links the resources of NIFA and the state land-grant universities with HUD for a public outreach education program to help residents prepare their homes for – and cope with – floods and other disasters. In many cases, that education comes through social media.

In order to reach more families in Southern Louisiana, HHP boosted social media postings to direct online users so that they could access resources on flood recovery as well as mold.  Boosting is a process when social media posts reach a wider audience through appearances at the top of a user’s Facebook page. A similar process is used for Twitter feeds to families. Additionally, targeted posting includes links to information and guides, such as the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) webpage, Rebuild: Healthy Homes guide, and the Healthy Homes Basics App. These resources provide quick answers and helpful instructions to families trying to recover from flood disasters, including protective clothing and how to conduct cleanup actions safely.

In one 24-hour period, the posts logged 509 clicks in which people went from the HHP Facebook page directly to the recovery guides. HHP will continue to boost posts for a few more weeks to ensure that more flooding survivors can access this information.  Dr. Claudette Reichel, director of Louisiana House at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Ag Center, has provided online resources as well as helped those residents who are not able to access online information or social media.  Since August 12th, the LSU Extension posts that were boosted to target Louisiana residents have reached over 26,000 people in the state and region.

HHP continues to support research, education and extension programs that increase home health and safety, improve family health, and build stronger communities. Since 1999, the HHP has addressed multiple housing related problems that affect the health of children and families including asthma triggers, mold, lead, radon, carbon monoxide and others.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.

Category/Topic: Conservation