“Riding Out the Storm”: Smartphones Keep Us Connected

photo credit: Kirk Yuhnke

As we hunkered down to wait out this storm, I couldn’t help but think about how times have changed with all this “tech stuff.”

Years ago, when a storm approached, you prepared, you boarded up, you tucked away your lawn furniture, stockpiled your batteries, water and food, and settled in to wait out the storm. Alone. Isolated. Wondering “what’s going on out there?”

When the storm passed, you emerged from your cocoon, and gradually learned how friends and family fared, and the extent of the damage in your neighborhood and beyond.

photo credit: NY and NJ Port Authority/CNN

If you were isolated with no power or transportation possibilities, you might sit in the quiet cold darkness for days as you waited for the power-gremlins to get you connected once again to the world.

In 2012 we have smart phones and tablets and so even when the power goes out, we are not alone.

It has been amazing to experience this communication during the recent Superstorm.

Smartphones have been a lifeline in this horrid situation.

Note to Readers: Think now about an alternate power source for your phone. Don’t wait for an impending emergency situation in your area. If you have a car, a car charger is vital. There are also external battery packs, but of course they are only good for a few extra charges (you might need more.) A power source for your phone should now be part of everyone’s home ’emergency kit’.

photo credit: Getty Images

With our phones, we learn of shelter locations, power outage status, street closures, safety alerts and other community official information.

We can keep in touch with family and friends. Each isolated in our own homes, text messages fly … “are you alright?” “what kind of damage?” “did you hear…” “do you know..”

In spite of being cold, damaged and stuck on a second floor with flood waters below, the ability to communicate with loved ones and to learn about what’s going on “out there” is vital to the whole experience.

photo credit: Charles Sykes — AP Photo

The aftermath of this storm is beyond awful. With power out, our smartphones are the only way that millions of people can communicate and learn about what to do next.

My phone continues to light up every minute or so with another important message. Updates from the power company on their progress. Community alerts about shelters. Yesterday I learned of several local schools that opened for people to go and take showers and charge their devices.

Today gas station lines stretch for miles. People are in these lines with their cars and also on foot to fill cans for their generators. (You read that right…. miles).

photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Warnings are important (vital!), too. Especially about generators. In my community alone, 3 people have already died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they ran their machines. I’ve received warnings about the generators, locations to avoid with downed wires, flooded streets, and streets that are closed entirely.

And it’s not just the official sources that are valuable. Facebook, Twitter, etc. are full of information being shared on where you can find some hot coffee, where you can get ice for your dark refrigerator, and the best spot to go and power up your phone.

This experience was horrible, the aftermath is overwhelmingly devastating, but technology is helping many people cope.

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16 thoughts on ““Riding Out the Storm”: Smartphones Keep Us Connected

  1. Yes I agree that nowadays we are all better informed and after such a dreadful storm being able to keep updated is vital. Letting your loved ones know you’re safe is also so important. Thank you for your insight to the smart phone.

  2. A Dog With Fleas says:

    Glad you are safe and I know what you went through. It was horrible, and I so agree with this post how Smartphones and Social Media keep you updated on what is going on around you. It makes you feel less isolated in what could be a very lonely situation. Now let the Recovery begin!! 🙂

  3. Technology has helped but I must add that for the first 3-4 days of the hurricane, we had no smartphone wireless access so we were completely and utterly cut off…

    • Yes. For the unfortunate who also lost cell service, you were thrown back into the darkness of isolation. That makes everything extra scary. Glad you are all ok. Did you suffer much damage?

      • A few felled branches and debris… thankfully. The last one left a gash in the roof that was fixed. I’m grateful we are fine and grateful you are too… It’s Unreal. 😦

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