'Great Tornado Drill' teaches duck, cover, selfie

Social media used as tool during natural disasters

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thousands of people across the state took time to duck and cover Wednesday morning during the "Great Tornado Drill."

The drill comes with a strong message from emergency managers in Central Florida.

"We are very concerned as emergency managers and meteorologists about this El Nino pattern. We've looked at the history and past, and severe tornadoes come from these types of weather patterns," said Alan Harris, Seminole County emergency manager.

Harris said this the first year for the Great Tornado Drill in Central Florida, making it a statewide awareness campaign. It's modeled after a similar earthquake drill in California called "The Great Shakeout" that has encouraged thousands of people to plan before a disaster.

All participants were asked to find a safe place, ideally an interior, ground-floor area away from doors and windows. During the drill, smartphone users snapped selfies to show off their safety plans on social media. The #TornadoDrill tag was immediately visible on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram after 10 a.m.

"Citizens have the expectation, that local government will provide information over social media, so we have a social media presence right now," said Manuel Soto, emergency manager with the city of Orlando.

In case of a real tornado, social media platforms can help emergency crews find downed trees or power lines and serve as a line of communication, Soto said.

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