Hurricane Irene Sweeps Across The Web

Mike Byhoff
August 29, 2011

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When Hurricane Irene moved up the East Coast this weekend, not everyone hunkered down and waited for the storm. Adventurous New Yorkers turned an empty Times Square into a playground (here's a video). As the rain picked up, people ignored the potentially dangerous storm and turned what's usually one of the busiest intersections in the world into a slip-and-slide course. A rugby game also broke out, complete with teams in uniform and spectators under umbrellas. Hockey and cricket players also hit the asphalt before police broke up the fun and games, leaving Times Square looking like a ghost town (here's a pic). What did you do during the hurricane? Let me know on and on Twitter @AdrianaTweeting.

While some were playing outdoors, others were tweeting up a storm about the storm. News organizations and federal agencies, in particular, took advantage of social media to warn residents about Irene's path and provide up-to-the-minute evacuation information. For example, the Red Cross told residents what to bring to shelters tweeting, "Heading to a shelter? Bring clothing, pillows, blankets, medications, personal hygiene items and important documents. #irene." New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted to his nearly 60,000 Twitter followers, "Please stay home. There are power lines down and flash flooding all over the state. Don't put yourself at risk." New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg used his language skills to tell New York's Spanish speakers to stay indoors by tweeting, "Por favor, ya no salga a las calles. Quedanse en sus casas o en los refugios. #Irene" ("Please, don't go out into the streets. Stay in your homes or in shelters. #Irene.) For the most part, people listened to their local government leaders, leaving New York's usually bustling public spaces empty (here's a viral picture of a deserted Grand Central Terminal). After Irene came and went without pounding New York as expected, one person tweeted, "So what am I supposed to do now with 114 power bars and a bathtub filled with batteries?" While Manhattan was spared for the most part, Irene struck areas from North Carolina to Brattleboro, Vermont, hard, leaving at least 24 people dead. As word spread about the real destruction, people on Twitter backed off the jokes. A number of jarring images of New York's Catskills under water prompted one person to tweet, "I suddenly don't feel quite so gleeful that Irene missed us. The Catskills are really suffering."