Rebecca and Genevieve Williams, a mother and daughter team who have created both a website and a Facebook page devoted toward disaster preparedness and communication, brought their message to the Neosho City Council on Dec. 5.

Rebecca and Genevieve Williams, a mother and daughter team who have created both a website and a Facebook page devoted toward disaster preparedness and communication, brought their message to the Neosho City Council on Dec. 5.
Councilman Richard Davidson introduced the pair to the Neosho City Council.
"Mr. Mayor, I asked them to make a presentation to the council about their Facebook page and on communication. I think there's always room to improve communications with the public,” he said. “I've been very impressed with the tool that they have. I wanted to share it so we could see if they could offer it to us."
Genevieve Williams began by stating,
"Fail to plan and plan to fail. It's not just an old adage,” she said. “Unfortunately, it's just a matter of time before the next disaster hits Neosho. It's not a fun thing to talk about but we have a short presentation for you."
Despite technical difficulties with a planned Power Point, the Williams provided information about what they have organized.
"Our disaster model is a proven social media (tool) that pioneered with the Joplin tornado," she said.
Rebecca Williams reiterated what her daughter stated.
"It's a matter of if and what, not when. Information is a necessity and it's crucial that it flows both ways."
The Facebook page can be found as Neosho Recovery Info.  There is also a website that provided information during last April's flooding in Neosho. It is neoshorecovers.org.
Both Williams, along with David Burton, co-authored a 28-page book, '”Using Social Media” in Disaster Recovery' that is available at Amazon.com. Both the 2011 Joplin tornado and the 2012 Branson tornado were used as models in the work.
Some of the ideas presented included setting up a volunteer registry, having an online donation portal in place, pre-printed flyers to be handed out in the event of a disaster, and communication information.
"Don't reinvent the wheel," Rebecca Williams said. "I saw this so much during the Neosho flood. Don't invent the Fred Flintstone car when there are turbo planes out there."
"There is a way to improve our disaster communication," Davidson said. "I had these two ladies here for a model and that we might want to pursue a grant."
Neosho Mayor Ben Baker commented, "We learned a lot from the flood, things we did well, things we didn't do as well. We will continue to try to improve those areas. We will have some discussions about what we need to offer in disasters that may occur."
Baker also expressed what he called some personal concerns about the advisability of the City working with the Williams.
"One of the concerns I have is working with someone who has made derogatory statements in public forums," Baker said  
As he began to read some of the comments made on social media sites, Rebecca Williams responded. "I came here to tell you about disaster recovery and communication. I will not have my character or good name slandered. My family has been here for eight generations."
Both Williams departed and Baker continued to read several statements made by Rebecca Williams on social media. "'The city's response to the flooding was a train wreck," Baker read. He said, "I think that's derogatory." Other quotes included 'Neosho is a blighted eyesore' and 'I cannot handle the stress of doing this website for disaster recovery again' and 'I believe you are evil for running for office."
An additional comment made by Rebecca Williams regarding the April flood was also read. "City leaders didn't pick me to run the flood recovery because I have the wrong genitalia," Baker read to council. "To make statements like that bothers me and is very frustrating to me. There have been a lot of false accusations made toward me and the city. I personally will not be in favor of working with her. I could not add more stress to her (life). I believe her actions are politically motivated."
Davidson countered Baker's comments. "Mr. Mayor, I want to remind you that the council invited her. I may not agree with Miss Williams. I may not agree with you. I want to make sure we aren't saying personal politics come first. This is not about anything but bringing a tool to the city."
Baker replied, "My own issue is that she has stated she couldn't handle the stress. I feel like that's important for people to realize. It's not personal politics.
"It's a communication tool that could assist our citizens. Communication needs to improve," Davidson said.
"I think we definitely need to look at it," Baker said but maintained the best interest of the city might be served without the assistance of the Williams.
Council members did agree that there is room for improvement  in disaster communication and recovery. They plan to weigh possible options in future discussions.