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Looking for a generator before a hurricane? There’s now an app for that

September 22, 2023

A new app designed to provide updates on disaster supplies and educational resources in the wake of a natural disaster was released this week.

“Local Relief” is a localized social media platform bringing communities together during a weather emergency.

Founder and Executive Director Heather Hackett had the idea for the program when Hurricane Irma caused widespread destruction across the Florida peninsula and she couldn’t find the supplies.

“People couldn't find anything,” Hackett said. “Where's the gas? Where are the gas cans? All of this stuff that you really can't find, I wanted to organize and streamline it. You also need that static information that doesn’t move.”

Channels for all 67 counties in Florida are available to join, and more states will be available once a need is expressed. Users are able to post pictures, text, gifs and links to their feeds as well as comment, repost and like other posts.

Just as Facebook allows the creation of a user’s own group, Local Relief allows for the same.

“The goal is for the app to be self-sufficient, and everyone will be able to create their own groups, as large or as small as they choose,” Hackett said. “For example, someone could create one for their neighborhood, school or nonprofit.”

In addition to social groups, links to disaster resources and educational tools from state and national groups are available. The app also has the availability to host nonprofits and their recovery efforts.

“It gives communities and locals a better way to respond and to communicate to the rest of their community,” Hackett said. “If you see something that you like or that works, especially for the information is constantly changing., take a picture and share it. It’s citizen journalism.”

Throughout every stage of a disaster, the app is live to support locals on the ground and enhance the ability to communicate crucial information to their neighbors. Information can be posted about sandbag distribution, generator availability, food drives, power outages, etc.

The nonprofit released its second update of the app now available on the App Store and Google Play.

Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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A service of WUFT at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications 

Partners of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network include: Florida's Division of Emergency Management, WDNA (Miami), WFIT (Melbourne), WMFE (Orlando), WFSU (Tallahassee), WGCU (Fort Myers), WJCT (Jacksonville), WKGC (Panama City), WLRN (Miami), WMNF (Tampa-Sarasota), WQCS (Fort Pierce), WUFT (Gainesville-Ocala), WUSF (Tampa), WUWF (Pensacola) and Florida Public Media.

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