Smartphone apps to help you stay safe and connected during Hurricane Florence

Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 19:47:07-04

NORFOLK, Va. - When Hurricane Florence hits, will you have the best smartphone apps downloaded?

The storm may knock out cellular service and power in areas in North Carolina and across Hampton Roads.

Below is a list of apps that could help you stay connected over the next few days:

FEMA app

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created an app that sends you real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. You can prepare by learning emergency safety tips for more than 20 types of disasters, including Hurricane Florence. Another feature that can potentially save your life is the "disaster resources" tab. You can locate open emergency shelters in your area and find disaster recovery centers.
  • To download, click here. Or you can download the app via text messaging:
    • If you have an Apple device: Text APPLE to 43362 (4FEMA)
    • If you have an Android device: Text ANDROID to 43362 (4FEMA)

Zello Walkie Talkie

  • Zello turns into a walkie talkie and works anywhere in the world as long as you are connected to the internet. If there is no Wi-Fi and no cellular data service, communication apps (including Zello) WON'T WORK. However, this may not be an issue because historically, mobile data networks have often remained at least partially operational, even after a severe disaster. Cellular towers often include battery or generator backup power, which lets them stay online for at least 2 hours, even after grid power is lost.
  • In a Facebook post the company said, "After a disaster, mobile networks will typically be overloaded with phone calls so don’t make phone calls unless you have an emergency and need to call 911. This will allow emergency calls to go through better and will also extend the lifespan of mobile cell towers running on backup power. Text messaging apps and Zello use a fraction of bandwidth of phone calls and will often work when phone calls won’t get through."
  • To download, click here.

WTKR News 3

  • You can get the most accurate and up-to-date weather models, breaking news and traffic patterns in your area. Even if you lose power in your home, you can live stream each broadcast to stay connected with what is going on. You can set up push alerts to be one of the first to hear about major developments in Hurricane Florence's path. Make News 3 your home for all hurricane coverage!
  • To download, click here.


  •  Nextdoor is a private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. People can report what is happening in their communities and send out urgent alerts for rescue, connect about flooding and wreckage in their neighborhood. Neighbors have also shared information about evacuation routes and hear from local agencies like police and EMS.
  • To sign up or download, click here.

Marco Polo

  • Marco Polo is a face-to-face messaging app for one-to-one and group conversations. It is a private app so no one has access to your Polos unless you allow them to. This does not work without WiFi or data connection. Many people are downloading it ahead of the storm as a way to talk to multiple family members at the same time.
  • To download, click here.

If you know of any other helpful smartphone apps, email us at

Click here for more hurricane resources