By now, hurricane Sandy has made most of the East Coast her port of call, her rage ringing from the soft sands of Virginia’s beaches to the rocky resistance of Maine’s shoreline. Walkways have dissolved into water; electricity hangs by furiously whipping wires; tree limbs limply lay on roadways and rooftops. These are, of course, the old familiar images of storm culture, but with a noticeably updated filter — one that coincides with the instagram, wireless age.[See also: Why medical apps should be certified]
Gone are the days when only dial-up radios delivered the latest storm bulletins to powerless communities — smartphones and tablets, with their long lithium life, are the new tempests tellers, providing up-to-the-minute coverage and visual confirmation at the touch of a screen.
So for all those hunkered down and boarded up (or just curious), here are some of the top apps available for tracking Sandy and the safety efforts enacted in her honor:
Hurricane by American Red Cross: Equipped with condition monitoring capabilities, various checklists aimed at helping households prepare for shoddy weather, and a unique messaging system that allows the user — doctor or patient — to alert and find others, this app is available (free) from both iTunes and Google Play.[See also: How mobile apps can connect physicians and their patients]
FEMA: Available for Apple/iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices, the FEMA app provides users with information on how to prepare for and recover from a variety of different disasters, including hurricanes. With handy emergency checklists and an interactive map locating FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in affected areas, it’s a free tool worthy of your mobile disaster kit.
The Weather Channel: Severe weather alerts from near and away — across the world even — can be accessed through the TWC app, available for Apple/iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone models.
Hurricane: This top-featured Apple app, produced by Kitty Code, can provide satellite images and radar of Sandy as well as regular bulletins from the National Hurricane Center about her progress. Video footage and an interactive map feature are also available. [Price: $2.99]
Hurricane Hound: An option for Android users, Hurricane Hound provides Google Maps-fueled imagery of a given hurricane in locations pegged by the Nation Weather Service and beyond. [It comes free with ads; $1.99 for a version without ad interruption]
Insurance Company Apps: When damaged property becomes a possibility, it’s always best to keep your insurance company close-by, as Huff Post Tech suggests. Some firms with pocket-app access include: USAA, Allstate, Geico and State Farm.
Flashlight applications can be helpful to have at the ready also, although a regular, battery operated unit is still the most recommended. And while the aforementioned techno aids are most definitely helpful for quick, sporadic updates, it’s still advised that storm facers purchase a hand-crank/battery operated radio to utilize as back-up if cell towers suffer outages or if constant news is preferred.Images courtesy of NASA, MODIS/ LANCE and G. Hagedom via creative commons license. [See also: Putting mobile health apps to the test]