With Hurricane Sandy almost certain to affect Northern Virginia starting Sunday, the need for up-to-the minute information is even more important.
At Patch, we will be working around-the-clock to cover the storm, but as with much of our reporting, the more interaction we get from users the more comprehensive our coverage will be.
Reston Patch is as much your site as it is ours.
So before, during and after Sandy comes to town, here’s how you can use Patch to help us paint the local picture of the event.
1. Get the news. When we know about storm-related news, so will you. From important local and regional announcements, damages, power outages and floods, we’ll have all the news covered 24-7.
2. Comment. If you have relevant information to add to an article, jump in and make a comment. We’ll follow up and likely add it to the article. These storm stories will continue to evolve as we speak to more officials and locals. You can be a real-time source by commenting.
3. Connect with the local editor. Karen Goff's email address and phone number are listed in her profile. Use them. If you have tips, call, e-mail or more often text to conserve cell phone power.
4. Follow us on Twitter. Before we write an article we tweet the news out to our followers. Want the info the fastest way possible, follow @RestonPatch.
5. Follow us on Facebook. Not only do we post real-time information on Reston Patch's facebook page, but we've set up a Northern Virginia Hurricane page too, where Patch editors from across Northern Virginia will keep you up to speed.
6. Post an announcement. Our announcement pages have always been a way to get your word out to the community. Did your cat or dog escape into the storm? Are you looking for a stray trash can? Post it here by clicking on ANNOUNCEMENTS near the top of the home page.
7. Start a neighborhood blog for information. Every day, our "local voices" platform allows users to post about anything from national security to needlepoint, but can be especially useful to coordinate neighbors or tell stories about cul-de-sac heroes. Get started by clicking BLOGS at the top of the home page.
8. Get the iPhone app. If the power goes out, your smartphone may end up being your only tool for getting the info on what’s going on in your community. Click here to get the Patch app for free on iTunes. Not only can you read news on it, but post photos and videos as well.
9. Take photos, shoot video. Please, stay indoors if you plan to wait out the storm. But any photos you take of the aftermath we’d prominently display on your Patch. Email them to your local editor or upload them directly to articles. Same goes for video. Our smartphones have put high-powered video cameras in our pockets. Send clips our way to help us report on the effect of Sandy in your backyards.
10. Become A Volunteer, or Ask For Them. Our Volunteers section lets readers post requests for volunteers -- or find opportunities to help their neighbors after the storm. Use it. Depending on the scope of the disaster, volunteers are going to be crucial to mend the community. Any Volunteers Needed requests on the site we will feature prominently on the home page.