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3 essential apps you need in case of a hurricane emergency

Be prepared.


Amrita Khalid


Posted on Oct 2, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 9:16 pm CDT

If Hurricane Joaquin ends up taking a course for the worst this weekend, you will want to be prepared for what to do in case of an emergency. 

As of 11am ET on Thursday, the Category 3 storm is making its way from the Samana Cays, Bahamas at 6 miles per hour. Forecasting models are divided on whether it will the storm hit landmass or be carried out to sea. For now, all we can do is watch and wait. (Here’s how you can track the storm.)

Worse comes to worst, these are the apps you need to prepare for power outages and potential flooding. 

Since many of these apps use GPS, which is a notorious battery drainer, it may be wise to use these as a last resort if the storm knocks out your regular source of Internet access. And be sure to invest in a decent solar-power charger for your smartphone, like this one by XTG, which works for both iPhone and Android devices.

And it goes without saying: Load up on plenty of peanut butter, tuna, and bottled water. Also, get ready to potentially become very familiar with Netflix‘s new October lineup this weekend. 

1) State-specific emergency apps

Depending on what state you reside in, an app exists to help find if you are in an evacuation zone and the nearest location for shelter.

NYC Hurricane Flood Evacuation Zone Map/ Flickr

  • NYC Hurricane Food Evacuation Zone Map: A list of evacuation zones and shelter locations throughout NYC. Available for iOS. The NYC Hurricane Evacuation map is also accessible online
  • Ready Virginia: Locate hurricane evacuation routes and a list of nearby American Red Cross shelters. Contains information on what to do during different kinds of emergencies, helps set up your own personal disaster plan, and notify emergency contacts. Available for iOS and Google Play.
  • Ready NC: Developed by members of the North Carolina Emergency Management team, the Ready NC app provides users with real-time information on disaster conditions. This includes road closures, flood levels, power outages, evacuation orders, and closest shelters. Available for iPhone and Google Play
  • NJ Alert: NJ Alert allows officials from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management to send you emails or text message alerts. 
  • MARYLANDPrepares: Prepare emergency kits and family communication plans while getting real-time alerts for emergencies, weather, and traffic. Available for iPhone and Google Play
  • DENS: The state of Delaware has a telephone notification system called DENS, or Delaware Emergency Notification System. Delaware residents who sign up for DENS will receive automated calls describing the incident and protective measures. DENS will automatically dial all unlisted and listed landlines. Here are instructions on how to get alerts from DENS on your cellphone. 

2) American Red Cross apps Flood and Hurricane

If your state doesn’t have its own emergency or evacuation alert app, two apps from the American Red Cross will come in handy: Flood and Hurricane. Both apps include prioritized actions to do before, during, and after a disaster that require no connection to wireless or 4G. Both apps let you find list of nearby open Red Cross shelters and allow you to set location-based weather alerts. Have loved ones that live closer to a storm’s danger zone that you’re worried about? Monitor weather alerts for family and friends who live in different locations. 

Both apps contain also contain a strobe light, flashlight, and audible alert functions. Flood and Hurricane by the American Red Cross are available for both iOS and on Google Play

3) Power outages

The combination of heavy rains and high winds from Hurricane Joaquin may result in many communities losing power. It’s likely your local utility has an app that allows you to view a map of power outages as well as an estimate of when power will be restored. In any case, make sure you like your smartphone’s native Flashlight app or download a new one

Here’s a list of power companies with their own apps that provide power outage information. 

  • My conEdison: The same app that lets New Yorkers control their air conditioners with their smartphones will allow you to report and check the status of a ConEd power problem in New York City. Available for iOS and Google Play
  • Pepco: Residents of the District of Columbia can report outages and get status updates through Pepco’s mobile app. Available for iOS and Google Play.
  • Delmarva Power: Delaware and Maryland residents can report outages and get status updates through Delmarva’s mobile app. Available for iOS and Google Play
  • Dominion: North Carolina and Virginia residents can report power outages to Dominion on its mobile site.
  • Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative: Report power outages and view SMECO’s outage map. Oh yeah, and pay your bill while you’re at it. Available for iOS and on Google Play

Photo via Brian Birke/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 2, 2015, 9:00 am CDT