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People Are Downloading These Apps to Prepare for Hurricanes

Picture of Peter Ward
Tech Editor
Updated: 8 September 2017

When Hurricane Harvey battered the southern coast of Texas last month, the scenes of devastation were heartbreaking. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, and whole cities were left underwater. Among the chaos, a number of people turned to a few apps in an effort to stay in touch, track the storm, and stay safe. As Hurricane Irma cripples the Bahamas and heads toward Florida, here are the apps worth downloading if you’re preparing for the worst.


Zello is a walkie-talkie app which is currently atop the U.S. App Store after it was used extensively in the rescue efforts in Texas. The app does need a Wi-Fi or 4G connection, but helps people stay in touch when phone lines are jammed and mobile service is patchy. Many groups, including the Cajun Navy, used the app to coordinate their efforts in Texas.

The app works very simply and helps people get in touch with friends and relatives in the case of an emergency. You can send voice messages and photos through the app as well.


The FEMA app gives you weather-tracking services and updates on dangerous conditions, but that’s not all. The app also provides tips on how to prepare for storms, shelter locations, and checklists to run through. And users can even apply for federal aid if they’re caught up in the hurricane.

A screenshot of the main menu of the FEMA app as of June 2016 | © FEMA


Rome2Rio mobile app | © Rome2Rio

For some unlucky people, the only way of dealing with the hurricane is to get out of its way, and that can mean booking travel at the same time as everyone else in your area. Rome2Rio gives you the easiest route from one place to another, whether that’s by plane, bus, train, ferry or car. In the chaos of an evacuation, this app could prove invaluable.

Hurricane by American Red Cross

Hurricane, the app from the American Red Cross | American Red Cross

There may be some fairly solid reasons not to donate to the Red Cross during a disaster, but using the organization’s Hurricane app could still be extremely useful. The app gives you real time updates on weather, but also gives you an easy way to check on the welfare of people you know. This app makes it simpler to track than the likes of Facebook, which also has a check-in feature.

Gas Buddy

Another app that has rocketed up the app store rankings this hurricane season in the U.S. is Gas Buddy. If you’re evacuating with a car, or even staying and looking to get around, the info found on this app could be crucial. Gas Buddy tells you where the nearest gas station is, whether or not it has fuel, and the price of the fuel. After Florida Governor Rick Scott told people in the state to download the app (although he referred to it as Go Buddy) the number of downloads increased emphatically.

The Gas Buddy app | Gas Buddy