How Technology Helped Beat a Hurricane

The weather this month of September 2017 is brutal. We have record floods in Southeast Texas. The US Southeastern coast is currently battling the strongest hurricane on record with Irma. The West is battling rampant destructive fires. Now I received a notification on my phone there is another category 4 hurricane named Jose. These natural disasters cause widespread destruction and hardships and affect so many people. Yet, out of destruction shines hope. Thousands of volunteers rushed to Texas to rescue Flood victims and provide aid to those in need. After Irma passes I know the same will take place in Florida and the Southeastern US. Below are three amazing examples of how technology helped beat a hurricane.
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Hurricane Harvey (NOAA & spacecityweather.com)

JJ Watt and YouCaring.com

If you are a Houstonian and/or a football fan JJ Watt needs no introduction. The Houston Texas drafted Watt back in 2011. He excels on defense with his huge wingspan and physicality. He even plays on offense every now and again. Fast forward to 2017. Watt and the Texans were away from home when Harvey hit. However, upon their return they got straight to helping fellow Houstonians. Watt started out with an initial goal of $200,000 for Houston Flood Relief. He started this fund on YouCaring.com through the Justin J. Watt Foundation. Now the total amount of donations is $29.3 million and rising. That is amazing! Over 196,000 people have donated through Watt’s page. As of now the page has 490,000 shares on social media.
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JJ Watt loading up supplies for Harvey victims (Getty Images)
This demonstrates the power of the internet. Yes Watt is a famous athlete and yes this storm received national attention but WOW. The money raised is already helping affected families all across the Houston are. Utilizing the power of social sharing Watt raised this money in less than two weeks. This is a great example of social media and websites, like YouCaring.com, helping those affected by natural disasters.

An Unconventional Way to Receive a Weather Forecast

I was on my way to work a day or two before Harvey hit. My radio was set to local Houston radio station 93Q. The radio DJ is talking to someone about the severity of Harvey and what effects it will have on the city. What stood out was how this guy’s forecast was clear and to the point. So many times in these situations you turn on the news and the weather man gives you a long winded forecast. All I want is the facts! I get to work and find this smart meteorologist on twitter and it turns out to be Eric Berger of Space City Weather. Berger along with colleague Matt Lanza work as meteorologists and write for Space City Weather since October 2015.
So many times in these situations you turn on the news and the weather man gives you a long winded forecast.
Later that night back at home I go to spacecityweather.com and signup for their email newsletter. That is the best thing I have ever done weather wise. During Harvey, each new email from either Berger or Lanza broke down the storm to straight, no hype, tidbits and let me and my family know what to expect. They helped us weather the storm during each stage. Who knew I would be getting my main weather news in my inbox!
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I wasn’t alone. The team from Space City Weather sent out a post saying their website almost crashed from the amount of new visitors. Their website held together and they continued to post awesome weather forecasts and advice. It felt like a buddy of mine letting me know the straight truth on the weather. Who new there were such a thing as zombie hurricanes? Go subscribe to their email newsletter. You won’t regret it.

What the heck is a Zello?

As I said at the beginning so many volunteers came to Houston to help the rescue efforts. Hundreds of civilian boaters helped bring victims to safe ground. How did they all know where to go? How did they know who needed to rescuing? Enter the app Zello.
News interviewers kept asking civilian rescuers how they knew to come to this area of the city to help. Over and over they would say I heard it on that app or that walkie talkie app. I had to investigate and see what they were talking about. I downloaded the app on my phone and searched for houston rescue. Several groups popped up and I selected the one for my area. Immediately I heard conversations of everyday civilians woking together to get people rescued.
Zello works like a walkie talkie or a Hamm radio. You join a group, push the button and in an instant you are communicating with others. So simple! People needing help could get on the app without any complex training and call out to rescuers and get immediate responses. Very cool.
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How Zello Works
In one of the conversations I heard a group of guys coming from Austin ask for safe passage to I-10. I stayed off the chatter but texted these guys the safest way to get into town. How awesome is that? People helping people. Local news media even featured a group of women that aided rescuers by acting as a call center helping coordinate rescue efforts. They were using the app. (I heard the familiar beeps from Zello.) Now the app is number 1 in the app store. People are already using it in Florida and the East coast to help people in need during Hurricane Irma.

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