With Hurricane Maria knocking out 100 percent of electricity and 95 percent of wireless cell sites in Puerto Rico, communicating with those on the island has proven difficult. The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington DC has encouraged people to call its hotline at 202-778-0710 to learn about their loved ones. But with so many struggling to connect to those on the island, the hotline is overwhelmed and people cannot get through. As anxiety builds for those who have yet to hear from their family and friends, people are looking for other ways to get information, including using the Zello app.
Zello is a walkie-talkie-like service that requires the internet to operate, meaning that it still won’t necessarily allow people to communicate with their loved ones directly. But many are using the app to learn more about the island. Using channels for specific cities, they can at least learn about the extent of damage.
Learn more about how you can use the app here and check out some ways people are using the app.
To all my family in the states and friends with family in our beloved Puerto Rico. You can find out general…
My Puerto Rico peeps worried about fam Downnload the Zello app. It's a walkie talkie app and there's alot of messages…
— Roberto Paredes (@FavoriteAgentRP) September 22, 2017
Glued to Zello right now. Social media is the best way to get information. The mountains in #PuertoRico are inaccessible and out of touch.
— David Beltrán (@DavidBeltran718) September 22, 2017
I broke down & added Zello. If looking for updates on #PuertoRico: sign on, then type: "Huracan María + town name" (Huracan María Coamo).
— Nancy Santiago Negron (@nancysnegron) September 22, 2017
With news still developing, every little resource matters, like Puerto Rico Maria Updates, a public Facebook group, which is attempting to collect as much information for people on and outside the island. It started a spreadsheet giving the most up-to-date information about different pueblos. The Resumen de Pueblos details things like last time someone was able to communicate, whether there’s electricity, and what kind of damage they’re seeing.