With the threat of a hurricane on the way, inland hotels book up fast and major roadways shut down with people trying to get out quickly.
Two entrepreneurs from North Carolina created an app they say will help people find quick, safe shelter.
It’s called Harmany (pronounced like “harmony”) with its name coming from a combination of letters from Harvey and Irma, two major hurricanes that devastated parts of the United States. The latter led to a governor-declared state of emergency for South Carolina.
Harmany has similarities to Airbnb, the vacation app that lets you find places to stay or rent out your home to others, except Harmany is used during hurricanes or other natural disasters.
The two creators of the app said it’s a quick and easy way for people who are evacuating to find safe places to stay with people who wouldn’t mind sharing their home.
“Rather than expecting people to spend $500 a night for a hotel, or rather than having people sleep in a gas station parking lot,” said Adam Huminsky, one of the creators, “…maybe someone can stay at our place for a day or two before they can get back on their way.”
Now with the touch of your finger, you can decide if you either need a place to go and you need to search for shelter, or you have a place and you’re willing to provide shelter to someone.
For example, someone in more inland Horry County could offer their home to someone in Myrtle Beach facing storm surge.
“Those hotels fill up quickly,” Huminsky said, “And people for a storm surge end up driving from Myrtle Beach perhaps to Charlotte to find an open hotel or a place where they can stay.”
He said connecting people with others close by could help alleviate congested highways.
“The roads are gonna be less crowded, there’s gonna be less demand for food and gas and hotel rooms.”
In the face of disaster, people’s minds are all over the place, so the app is designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
It gives you options like preferred sex, number of travelers, house size, and even to say if pets will be traveling.
“You can press one button and say, ‘my place is available,'” said Brian Hilinski, the app’s other creator. “And it goes and it pops up on a map and you can go and search the map as the person who needs to find a place.”
As for safety measures, the app requires a valid email and phone number and also allows you to upload a government I.D. and link the account to your social media.
The app just launched in both Apple and Android app stores and is free to download.
You can read more about Harmany here.