FEMA Disaster App Helps with Severe Weather Preparation, Recovery

Jul 5, 2016

Floods, tornadoes and other severe weather can cause chaos in a community. With the summer severe weather season under way, the Federal Emergency Management Agency hopes its smartphone app can help people prepare for and recover from all kinds of disasters.

The FEMA app lets you upload photos, find a shelter and check on conditions for up to five different zip codes. Brenda Gustafson, a public affairs specialist in the Kansas City FEMA office, says photos are authenticated before they are shared with first responders.

The app also has checklists and other preparation tools, she says, so families can be as ready as possible for severe weather or human-caused events.

“You can actually identify what type of disaster and it gives you the information for before, during and after,” Gustafson says.

The app will even remind you what else you have left to do if you started preparing but don’t finish.

“The biggest thing, I think, for families in a disaster is to have a communication plan,” Gustafson says. “Where are you going to meet? How are you going to make contact with family? What happens if you can’t find someone, who is the next person that you would go to?”

She says with the five-location tracking option, users can monitor the weather or an unfolding situation in a place far from home, perhaps where a child is away at school or elderly parents are living without family members.

FEMA hopes to get a half million users for the app, which is available for Apple and Android phones.