Paper No. 308-9
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM
SIMILARITIES IN DIFFERENT NATURES – A COMPARISON OF SOCIAL MEDIA USE BETWEEN HURRICANE SANDY AND OSO MUDSLIDE
It is well recognized that disasters are social phenomena. This suggests different kinds of disasters should have certain similarities, or certain universal patterns from the social perspective, because all the disasters are linked by a common crucial component: social disruption—the changes in life patterns from before disasters to during and after disasters. This paper presents an empirical examination of this implication. Using data from the social media Twitter, we compared the temporal evolutions of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Oso Mudslide in Washington State in 2014. It is discovered that despite the starkly different natures of the two disasters, similar patterns can be identified in the evolutions of both disasters. The patterns are strongest in the overall and local trends of the disruption changes, peaks of the disruption, and when the impacted area recovered to a stable state (not necessarily the pre-disaster state). These patterns are generally similar for the two disasters, while the one for Oso Mudslide appeared with a two-day lag compared to Hurricane Sandy. The result reveals that different disasters can have similar mechanisms in their social impacts. Our study empirically quantifies the theory that all disasters are social disruptions. The insight that a common pattern can be identified from all disasters can be invaluable in assisting disaster response and recovery effort.