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SmartPhoning for Help

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) When the worst damage happens during natural disasters, people turn to first responders, their neighbors and even organizations like the Red Cross for help.

Now the Red Cross is helping you turn to your phone too, thanks to its new Flood App.

"It looks like it's easy to read, said Cedar Rapids Resident Beth McDougall.

"Yeah I think this is a pretty good app, said Tom Thompson as his grandchildren ran around him.

"I think it's for people who do live in those flood-prone areas but also for people who have a tendency to be in areas that are flash-flood prone, said American Red Cross Regional Communications Officer Kara Kelly.

It brings a 21st Century approach to a type of natural disaster that people have dealt with for ages.

"So there we have the toolkit, explained Kelly as she flipped through her iPad. The right before, the after, plan ahead, and during. So right before, it's going to have your "make-a-plan."

"I like how it says "make a plan," so you can think about it before hand, said McDougall as she tried the app on an iPhone.

When its time to clean up, the app has tips for how to stay safe and how prepare an insurance claim, making sure you dont miss anything.

"The more you have all these things together, as scary and as much as we don't want to think about it, it's better to have it because then on the back end, you're probably going to be able to move forward a little bit quicker, said Kelly.

For Thompson, an app on a smartphone isnt going to solve all the problems if a disaster strikes, but it has its role.

"It'll certainly improve the communication that we did not have in 2008, said Thompson.

The app is free and the Red Cross says similar apps for first aid and hurricanes have been recognized as helping save lives, all because someone took the time to download them.

The application also has an Im safe feature that delivers a pre-programmed message to friends and family on the users command, quickly letting them know that the user is safe. The Red Cross says that lets flood victims focus on other important tasks instead of individually contacting loved ones.
 
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