#Irma – Issues of Trust When Communicating During Disasters. The Case of Hurricane Irma 2017
We thus ask how EMAs deal with uncertain, unverified or false information during a disaster situation. For further illustration of their communication strategies, we investigated crisis communication efforts during “Irma”, a category 5 hurricane, which affected the Caribbean and Southern USA in 2017 as one of the most powerful hurricanes during the last years (NOAA, 2017). Therefore, we conducted a mixed-method study by combining qualitative expert interviews on crisis communication strategies of EMAs in the USA with a content analysis of twitter data.
Results show that EMAs seek to establish themselves as a trustworthy source of information, e.g. by constantly providing updates and clarifications of the ongoing situation. For information outside their domain, they refer to other credible sources. They counter rumors or false information by using rumor control webpages or specific hashtags (#RumorControl).
Based on our findings, we discuss and derive recommendations to further improve trust building among EMAs and the public during disaster management.