#VTResponse Reboots As Sandy Slowly Increases

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A digital clearinghouse for those looking for help – or looking to help – that materialized in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene has geared up again – this time for Hurricane Sandy.

VTResponse.com is now crowd-sourcing reports of damage and power outages as Sandy’s dangerous winds continue to increase in Vermont.

Sarah Waterman, the 29-year-old architect of VTResponse.com, says by now the social media Website is a well-oiled machine.

"We’re basically looking to do the same thing we did in the first days after Irene," Waterman says. "So in this case, given what Sandy looks like, it’s going to be a lot of outages, downed trees, school cancellations and closures, all of that kind of information."

In the weeks after Irene, the Website got more than 500,000 views, about 1,000 posts and it coordinated hundreds of volunteers.

But given current expectations for this storm, Waterman says VTResponse.com will serve as an information-sharing hub rather than volunteer recruiter.

"If Sandy is mostly a wind event, it would involve more sharing: how do we know that power is out, power is coming back on – all of those things that happen after a major wind storm," she says.

Waterman stresses that posting reports on VTResponse.com is not a substitute for calling 911.

She says the website has an unofficial relationship with the state, complimenting other groups’ services to get food, water and emergency assistance to those communities that are hardest hit.

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