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When Irene Tien started her Twitter account in 2006, she probably never predicted that the account would become the face of a natural disaster.
But that’s exactly what happened when Hurricane Irene started heading toward the East Coast. Tien, who is 28-year-old New Yorker, started getting replies on Twitter as if she were the actual hurricane.
“Btw, tweeting @irene doesn’t deliver any messages to the hurricane. Sorry,” she wrote in reply.
However, Tien’s co-workers at the digital-media firm Huge, Inc., felt that there was an opportunity to do more with this sudden communication connection. They convinced her to hand over her Twitter for the next few days so that the account could actually become the storm. While many of the comments are funny, there are plenty of pieces of safety information also sent out through the account.
Tien does not do any of the tweeting herself, leaving it up to her colleagues, Ross Morrison, who is Huge Inc.’s Associate Creative Director and Bjorn Larsen, a copywriter at the company. The duo is holed up in an apartment in Brooklyn for the storm.
“We’ve been trying to balance the humor with appropriate information. A lot of people were trying to engage the account for information. It was a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Sam Weston, Huge, Inc.’s Director, Communications told The Hollywood Reporter.
The first Tweet from Hurricane Irene came on August 26: “Hey, so… this is Irene. The hurricane.”
Now, as the real Hurricane Irene travels up the coast from North Carolina, making its way into New England, Irene has more than 9,500 followers, and sends out a balance of funny and serious messages. Officials, such as a rep from FEMA, have also contacted the account about spreading the word about safety measures for this weekend.
“500,000 w/o electricity right now? Can’t verify this because none of them are tweeting,” she wrote on Saturday.
“Everybody get somewhere safe, get your rest and try to stay dry,” she also tweeted.
Other gems from the Hurricane Irene writer have included:
“Jets vs. Giants preseason game moved to Monday? I was hoping to make it! Mark Sanchez is so dreamy!”
“I may not always be entirely serious… or cirrus … or even cumulonimbus… but I’ll try to keep it helpful.”
“Cape Lookout, NC doesn’t look anything like the brochure my travel agent gave me but still a very charming town.”
What will happen to the account once the storm has passed? Weston says they will return it to its rightful owner, Irene Tien.
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