As the news broke around 10:30 this morning, I noticed it on Twitter. I figured it would be taken care of quickly, just another hostage situation. By about noon everything seemed to be okay, the suspect was in custody and the bomb squad was on scene to see if there really was a bomb. Around 1:30 everything changed. A huge plume of smoke could be seen from my office miles away and from throughout the Sacramento region. I watched with thousands of others online as the mall we have come to know, love and frequent literally went up in smoke.
That said, this post isn't just about the fire, it's about how social media was utilized in the response. "Roseville Galleria" quickly became one of the top 10 worldwide trending topics on Twitter (number 5 to be exact). Roseville residents and workers not only went to their office windows to look, but took out their phones, snapped and posted pictures, took videos and helped local media get a more complete picture of what was going on from different vantage points. People on Twitter quickly found and posted links to the suspect's Facebook and MySpace pages, where sadly the suspect had been crying out for help and although people tried to help, no one knew what he was capable of.
Now Roseville sits without its mall, a source of approximately $3 million in tax revenue. Many people who had a job this morning are now unemployed. Many people hoping to go shopping this weekend will have to look outside their own community.
On another note this incident proved something that so many other disasters in the Sacramento region have shown. Our first responders are second to none. The coordination of fire departments from Roseville, Sacramento and surrounding communities was superb and immediate, 27+ different engine companies and even the helicopter from Sacramento Metro Fire was helping guide fire fighters on the ground from high above (and it landed on the parking garage). The coordination of police was also amazing. As I was driving past the Galleria on my way home tonight the Folsom Police Department's Command Center was on its way to the scene to provide support and every entrance and turn lane into the mall was barricaded.
My mall will be closed for awhile, but the spirit of the community will shine bright. Roseville will bounce back, our mall, our meeting spot, our center of activity will be back soon.