Don’t you love those time-travel movies where the characters go back to re-do something for the better? I started thinking about these movies this week when the American Red Cross launched its new Hurricane Preparedness App (available here for iPhone and here for Android) and I was reminded of the time I lived without power for a week when Hurricane Isabel hit the East Coast in September 2003.
Isabel, the second major hurricane of the season, left damage all along the eastern coastline. I was a junior at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., which shut down for an entire week due to lack of power.
Hurricane preparedness is probably one of the last things on a college student’s mind, and it certainly was for me and my friends. As we waited for life to return to normalcy, we struggled to find places to hang out that had hot water, electricity and food.
How would things have been different had I had the new Hurricane Preparedness App?
First, I could have been better prepared before the storm hit. While I had lived in the Mid-Atlantic my entire life, Hurricane Isabel was my first time braving a hurricane away from my family. The app would have told me what to gather in my preparedness kit and I could have accessed the information even if I didn’t have internet connection.
Second, I could have used the one-touch “I’m safe” messaging to let my friends and family know I was safe. When my cell phone died and my apartment line didn’t work, my mom combed through the phone records on our family plan to reach any of my friends who might know my whereabouts. Had I had the app, I could have cut down my mother’s sleuthing—and my subsequent embarrassment.
Lastly, the app could have spread some light on my situation—literally—with its flashlight function. My three roommates and I weren’t prepared and realized after the storm that we only had one flashlight for the whole apartment. An extra light would have been very helpful!
Nearly a decade later, my older, wiser, app-toting self is ready for the next hurricane. While I can’t go back in time, I can make sure I’m prepared for the next big storm.
What would you have done differently if you would have had this app in the past?