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Top Free Smartphone Apps for Surviving Hurricane Sandy


It’s official: Hurricane Sandy is no joke. The federal government has closed, the DC metro system is down and this beast of a storm is 700 miles wide and expected to blast the East Coast with sustained winds of 70 mph. Of all the tools in your survival toolkit—don’t overlook your cell phone.

(Track Hurricane Sandy in Real Time)

Before you begin using your smartphone as a survival tool, make sure you’re keeping it charged as the storm approaches. Turn off push notifications and any location based services until they’re needed—when the power goes out (which it will), your phone will be one of your most crucial lifelines for the several hours it’s still working.

(Learn How to Prepare for Hurricane Sandy)

There are a slew of apps you can download to give you the latest updates on the impacts of Sandy. Keep your phone charged as long as you have power and check out a few of the best apps below:

Flashlight (Free, iPhone)

If you don’t have a flashlight at the ready, this handy app is a must. It’s free and the light from an iPhone is incredibly bright. Downside: It will drain your battery quickly. Use sparingly or, even better, go buy a flashlight and batteries.

American Red Cross: Shelter View (Free, iPhone)

Shelter data reflects all Red Cross managed disaster shelters across the United States. Information is updated at least daily, and more often during disasters, including location, capacity, current number of shelter residents, and the date and time of the last update for each activated shelter. Also provides maps of shelter locations.

FEMA (Free, iPhone)

The FEMA App contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster, and the FEMA blog.

Hurricane by American Red Cross (Free, iPhone)

Be ready for severe weather with Hurricane by American Red Cross. Monitor conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe – a must have for anyone who lives in an area where a hurricane may strike or has loved ones who do.

TuneIn Radio (Free, iPhone, Android, Blackberry)

Provides access to local radio for weather news, the latest updates on Sandy or simply to get your mind off the wind and rain. TuneIn plays more than 70,000 stations. Whether you want to hear music, sports, news or current events, TuneIn Radio offers over 70,000 stations for you to choose from.

NPR News (Free, iPhone, Android, Blackberry)

NPR News not only has the latest news on the storm—it provide access to NPR’s local radio stations across the country. Listen to NPR throughout the storm for access to what’s happening across the entire eastern seaboard.

Other guides for top hurricane smartphone apps:

What apps do you recommend everyone have on their smartphone? Post in the comments and we’ll update this guide. 

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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