112-mph winds from Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas on Saturday, resulting in at least 13 deaths and leaving more than 796,000 households with no electricity, according to CNN, with over 20,000 people evacuating to emergency shelters.
One Myrtle Beach resident spotted an alligator walking through their neighborhood, and the New York Post warns the hurricane "could displace venomous snakes from South Carolina's wetlands," uprooting "some 38 species of snakes -- including dangerous cottonmouths and copperhead vipers."
Cellphone carriers are offering free calling, texting, and data services to affected customers in the Carolinas, and Quartz reports that other tech companies are also trying to help:
People fleeing Florence can find hundreds of places on Airbnb to stay for free; the company will screen applicants and cover homeowners for any damage up to $1 million. Harmany is an app created specifically to connect people during natural disasters. It's set up so that people who have a place can list it, adding it to a map where those needing shelter can find them. Gas Buddy, which lets users search for gas prices and availability by zip code, has set up a special "Florence Live Updates" page and section on its app so users can identify which gas stations are out of fuel, diesel, or power....
The main federal disaster agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has an app that is supposed to provide up-to-the minute information about the storm, shelters, and evacuation routes. It is crashing constantly, according to Android users. (Quartz's didn't have the same problems, but hitting the "get directions" button to one North Carolina shelter inexplicably opened up Uber.) FEMA also recommends the Red Cross's Hurricane app, which shows location specific weather alerts, has a flashlight and an alarm, and allows users to connect with people in their contacts, but doesn't have information on shelters.
And the data backup company Datto is even deploying equipment for free to bring back critical infrastructure. "With this storm, it looks like flooding will be as much of a danger as wind. It doesn't take a lot of water to knock out infrastructure like cable and internet. Things that can take weeks to build it back..."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.