PEARL – In the digital age of smartphones and tablets, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency encourages the use of social networks during hurricanes to receive vital emergency information from local, state and federal agencies, as well as nonprofit and faith-based organizations.

“Smartphones have quickly become the first method of receiving information for most Mississippians,” said MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson. “Social media networks can help distribute helpful and up-to-date information before, during, and after a disaster.”

MEMA primarily uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to relay information, in addition to traditional media like television stations, newspapers and radio.

The agency has more than 102,000 followers on Facebook and more than 19,000 on Twitter. The public can follow updates and receive tips instantaneously, via Twitter, by following the username @msema. On Facebook, search for @msemaorg.

As an example of the effectiveness of using social media, MEMA reached more than 2.5 million people on Facebook during Hurricane Isaac in 2012 with preparedness messaging, real-time weather warnings and information about recovery efforts.

In the last calendar year, MEMA unveiled its new mobile app.  There, you can find preparedness tips, both state and local emergency management contacts, local weather updates and more. The app is free for both iOS and Android users, by searching the keywords “Mississippi EMA” in the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Many county emergency management offices are also using social media and MEMA encourages you to follow them for local information.

Other valuable uses of social media during emergencies:

  • You can get information on your cell phone, even if the power is out.
  • Use it to contact friends and family to let them know your plans before a storm.
  • After the storm, phone lines may be down or jammed but text and data could be the best way to let people know you are safe and where you are.

You can download the 2018 MEMA Hurricane Preparedness Guide at The best way to get up-to-date information is to “Like” MEMA on Facebook, or “Follow” us on Twitter, @msema.

Gov. Phil Bryant declared May 7-11 as Hurricane Preparedness Week in Mississippi.