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.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’.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.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).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.