Joplin Tornado Survivors Find Connection, Support on Facebook

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After a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Mo., frustrated families around the world are still searching for missing family members. So local newspaper The Joplin Globe has created a Facebook page to reconnect them.

And with 9,472 “likes” already, it has certainly become popular. The page, “Joplin, Mo., Tornado Survivors,” encourages residents to post messages on its wall to alert others they are safe, or to make inquiries about lost loved ones.

“FYI I found my friend Jon Griffith alive,” says one message. Another reads, “Hi, I’m from the Philippines. I want to know how’s my 71-year-old grandfather (Thom Sarino). We cannot contact him. Maybe if someone knows him please tell us. We would be so grateful.” To which another helpful user has replied: “I am also trying to locate any information for you. I pray that we find him soon!”

(PHOTOS: Tornado damage in Joplin, Missouri)

Other similar pages on Facebook include “Joplin MO People Lost & Found Tornado 5/22/2011,” “Joplin’s Loved Ones,” and “Joplin Tornado Citizen Checks.”

But it won’t make any miracles, and even Joplin Globe’s editor is being realistic. “It’s heart-wrenching. It’s a lot of individual stories, and a lot of them are not going to end happily,” he told Poynter.

But there’s no underestimating the social good that social networking can do. “I’ve been the admin on our Facebook page for a little over a year. It didn’t really hit me until now the power that social media can have in times of crisis,” he added.

(VIDEO: Tornado Rocks Joplin, Missouri, Killing Almost 100)