As Storm Sandy barreled down on the Northeast on Monday, a one-woman response team at the Fire Department of New York monitored Twitter through the night to help people in need.
Emily Rahimi, a seven-year veteran at the FDNY, kept New Yorkers updated on developments from a storm that flooded many parts of the city Monday night through the official department Twitter feed. In a flurry of more than 100 tweets, Rahimi, who was still working at her desk on Tuesday morning, replied to cries for help sent out on the social media service, passed along updates from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and followed up when New Yorkers posted tweets of thanks.
"I was just tweeting to people who were not able to get through to 911," Rahimi told Yahoo News.
Rahimi posted updates to the official FDNY Twitter account urging those facing emergencies to dial 911. Because the response effort was divided among city government agencies, calling 911 allowed dispatchers to filter out assignments instead of every request going to the fire department.
"*Do not* tweet emergency calls," Rahimi wrote as the storm hit.
But for those unable to access a phone or who could not get through, Rahimi was there to help.
"I have contacted dispatch," Rahimi responded within minutes. "They will try to send help as soon as they can."
Rahimi's tweets sometimes helped serve as a much-needed voice of support while victims of the storm waited for help to arrive.
"[A] volunteer's brother is trapped in 301 oriental blvd apt 4h can u help us?" a user with the account name @bklyndafna posted on Twitter.
"Has he called 911?" Rahimi posted in response.
"yes no response," @bklyndafna said.
"That area is busy now. Units are working as quickly/safely as possible. Will make sure dispatch is on it. Keep in touch with him," Rahimi wrote back.
The FDNY Twitter feed is full of conversations between distressed friends and relatives and the FDNY, which offered support and guidance.
The account is still up and running, providing advice for poststorm safety and, of course, still on the lookout for those who are stranded.